Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Here in Atlanta!

Hello Family and Friends!
Oh boy do I have stories to tell you all today! :) Are you excited? You should be! Its official, I live in the South, where people say "ya'll" and theres a chapel on every corner. By Chapel I should really say "Church Mall" because I kid you not, some of the churches down here are HUGE they make LDS Stake Centers look like baby cabins. Speaking of church buildings there was one with the following posted on their sign,"Stop, drop, and roll wont save you from the fires in Hell!" Ya.. That's real. Haha! Wow these Churches sure are energetic and excited. :)
The first thing President had us do when we got to Atlanta was ride the "Marta" which is basically their "BART" or "Metro." We were all given pass-along cards, Books of Mormon, and other stuff to hand out. President said "I'll meet you at the last stop, open your mouth, and get rid of the stuff in your hands as much as possible." At first it was nerve wracking to do it but once I got out of my shell it went great, I talked to everyone I could and would move seats to make new friends at each stop. I ended up giving out all but one of the Book(s) of Mormon I had. There was a couple I talked to for awhile who gave me His business card and said "you and your companion can come tour CNN and with me anytime you want. You're a great God-loving person and I'd love to do that for you." So that was fun! :) Share the gospel and make friends!
Before I tell you about my area or companion situation lets do some math.. Last week there were 12 sisters in the mission, there were 6 other sisters that arrived with me. We increased the number of sisters by more than 50%. Next transfer 12 sisters enter this mission. By the end of the year the Georgia Atlanta North Mission will have 96 sisters! How cool/crazy is that! The Lord is really hastening His work and this little mission is sure feeling it. I arrived with the first ever 19yr-old sisters to be in this mission, so president is quite excited!
Lets talk about my area and companions. Ya thats right, I said companions. I am in a tripanionship (there are 3 of us). Sister Blackett came in with me and we were the only two 21yr-olds going to our mission the same day. Kind of funny, the 21yr olds are being trained together, the 20yrolds are together, and the two 19yr-olds are together as well. Then there is one 20 yr old who joined an existing companionship. Hope that made sense. There were 4 available trainers for this transfer.. and 7 sisters to train, how does that work? I'll tell ya! We are all being trained together. CRAZINESS! :)
My trainer is Sister Young from Boise Idaho in the Bachelor/Master Accounting program at BYU. She's awesome, a super hard working and diligent missionary but also knows how and when to have fun. We get along well and are working hard so its great. Sister Blackett studies Sign Language at UVU, she's new like me and is doing well adjusting. She's a little more shy than I am so I have to remember to shut up and let her talk to people on the street :) We are working well together and no complaints so I'd say its great!
I am living in Merietta (sp?). I'm right outside Atlanta and live in the Paper Mill ward boundaries. We live at the edge of the mission.. like I can stand on the side walk and throw rocks into the other Mission.. Thats real. Don't worry Mom, I don't have any spare time to even try it. :) The Ward here so kind, and they sure love their missionaries. Bishop has just now decided that the missionaries need to be fed every night instead of twice  a week like they used to, so I'm definitely not going hungry. We are very excited about this, not for the food, but for a chance to get to know the members and hopefully include them more on the work.
There havent been missionaries in the area for awhile so we are starting from scratch. What does this mean? It means we are Harvesting ALL DAY LONG. What is Harvesting you ask? Harvesting is basically contacting/tracting on steriods. Its so scary and SO amazing :) Instead of doing the whole "we're missionaries..." thing, when you are at a door you say something along the lines of "we are representatives of Jesus Christ and if you are willing, we would love to come in and say a prayer with you leaving His peace and blessings on your home." Super bold right? But it actually works sometimes and when it does it is SO powerful. You pray for them and their family after finding out their needs and then afterward try to teach them a little. We are just doing that all day trying to find people who want to learn more about the gospel. Right now we are only teaching 2 people who havent been taught since the last missionaries were in the Area so we are definitely doing a lot of finding, but I love it. :)
A few short experiences:
We met a woman Kylia who was outside spray-painting in her yard and gave her a book a mormon and she wants us to come back this week to teach her. She said 'My brother just joined your church, and never before have I met anyone who lives their religion like him and his mormon friends do." We are glad those whom she has met have been good examples.
Henry Roja was a man who we met on the FIRST door I did my introductions with. He speaks spanish, so I talked to him a bit which was sooo cool :) He was working at the house so we didnt do the Harvesting prayer but we got him a book of mormon and he is meeting with Spanish missionaries. Whether or not he meets them often or declines, it was a great experience.
Keith and Martha live in our complex and LOVE missionaires. We went to meet them on Saturday and they were so sweet, wanted to feed us whenever they could and just have us stop by. Suprisingly the missionaires for the past 7 months actually haven't ever taught them a lesson. So they said they would love to learn more and said they have watched one mormon message before, so we are going to share a lesson with them on Sunday.
Funny story at Keith and MJs, I was smiling and happy even though I was BEYOND exhausted and Keith points to me and says "She's the newby huh?" HAHA Darn! I got totally pegged for being new. At least he thought I was new becuase I was still smiling, happy, and optimistic about the work. And I decided, if that is what makes someone look new, then I'm going to always smile and hope to always look new. :) He has this standing joke with the missionaries that he gives them a screwdriver for protection. And guess who earned the screw driver in our compaionship? Yup. YOURS TRULY! :) Haha that's real. I thought it was so funny.
Anyways, time to go. I love you all so much. I hope to have more experiences to share with you next week but I wanted to just kind of give an overview for this week. I am working hard each day trying to find souls which the Lord desires us to teach the gospel to. The people in Georgia are so nice and all love God and Jesus so much. One last story, I introduced us and this man said "I know Him, He's my best friend, I talked to Him this morning." (He, meaning Jesus Christ). Its so amazing to have everyone say great things about Him and how much they love Him. We never get doors shut in our face becuase we say we are His messengers, its usually only once they figure out we are "mormons." But its still so good and I still love the work we do so much :) Tracting and Finding people to teach is something I need to do my whole mission so I'm happy to do it. I know the Lord will bless us for our efforts and hopefully we can teach more people soon.
Being a missionary is amazing, I love it. I'm doing great. I don't need anything, just keep doing what you're doing :) Letters are always nice, but dont worry if you can't. I love you!
Sister Hamilton
1. My new companions and I.
2. Me doing the famous MTC picture, for mom :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stalkers are real. And so is the Gospel. Oh and I'm going to be on TV. NBD.

Oh my dear family and friends! 

I have WAY to much to tell all of you and WAY to little time. So please excuse the typos and what not as I try to type as fast as my little fingers can go. 

I leave for the field in T-minus 4 days, I report to the travel office at 3 am and go to the airport sometime after that. Craziness but thats okay! :) I'll land in GA around noon on Tuesday and go to the mission home for a pow-wow and what not. So exciting. 

We are teaching a lot, which is so much better than sitting in class all day. My district has even been chosen to teach extra volunteers and investigators. Which is a HUGE deal because most districts have been getting theirs canceled because there just arent enough resources with the HUGE amount of missionaries coming in. The week I entered the MTC there were 600 missionaries coming in the same day, this wednesday 850 missionaries came and in two weeks 1,300 missionaries are coming in. The MTC is growing so big! So big infact that KSL is doing a special on the MTC and growth of missionary program. 

After service on wednesday Sister Dickerson, Blaylock, and I went back to the room to get ready to shower and for class. (My comp and I were split into tripanionships so we could get more service done). Anyways we were in our room and this woman just barged in haha and asked if they could film our room so they could show what it looked like having 6 girls in a room. So we agreed to clean up, nothing too exciting. Well during lunch our name came over the loud speaker and we were told to go back to our room because not only did they want to film our room, but they wanted to interview us! So cool!! So my room got chosen to be interviewed by KSL for their MTC special. We did a bunch of interviews, they filmed us walking, doing companion study, and all sorts of stuff. Kind of fun ya? :) I'm stoked. I'll send a picture to prove my story. 

Last funny story of the day before I change gears. So there is this one elder.. I dont know his name, he has told me a few times.. but I never remember.. oops :) Anyways, not important. So I see him everywhere, becuase we have our meal times the same and he got here the same day I did. Well on Saturday I was getting my food and he just walked right up to me and said "SISTER! I see you everyday, and I always tell everyone around me how I think your hair is the best, so I decided today that I was going to tell you. So hey! I really like your hair, its awesome." HAHA So that was funny. Now every time I see him he tells me how much he loves my hair. Wait.. it gets better. Yesterday we had In-Field Orientation AKA death by meetings. We had meetings from 8am-5:30pm. Such a long day! And they split you up from your district and assigned you to random rooms. Well Elder 'I like your hair' was in my room. We were in the big meeting in the mornign and my companion said "Um.. Sister Hamilton.. there is an elder trying to get your attention" I look over and there he is smiling and waving. So I said hello, nothing weird. Then He is in all of my classes, I walked in and we were going to sit at a table that happened to be next to his and he smiles and says "SISTER! Here! theres a seat next to me" I just smiled and said "Oh thanks elder! But I need a seat for my companion too." And sat down.. haha He's funny. And he pops up everywhere and comes to talk to me. Its so random! And hilarious, oh little elder. I think its funny so it doesnt bother me, but it bothers my companion. haha

Okay. So to end my letter this week I want to type up a part of one of my journal entries this week. It was the most powerful experiences I have had here in the MTC and I will always hold these two individuals in my heart. 

"Today Sister Reese and I taught a couple in their early 70s who were just amazing. James and Joney Saxton have been married for four years now, and are both inactive members of the church. The lesson began just as all lessons do, asking a little bit about their backgrounds and needs. No unusual amount of information was shared. Joney loved that I was from the bay area as well, and so she asked me a great question "Sister Hamilton, why are you here? Why are you on a mission?" I  usually answer that question with the scripture John 21:15 so I went to reach for my bible and I saw my "ANGELS FOR ATTICUS" bracelet. Then the thoguht came, "you are here to help families be together forever." So I began telling her of how much my family means to me and that eternal families was a lesson my familt was taught by our Angel Atti. Joney, first silent, looked up and said "My angel Jonney died 3 years ago, he was my oldest grandson." As I talked to her of her expectations for this visit she said "I want to be sealed to my wonderful husband, can you help me remember how?"

James, being quite the character gave Joney a hard time. But we could telll it was a sincere question she had. Sister reese taught powerfully and gently of the pwoer of the atonement. I kept wondering how how we could get James along to ask what his concerns were when all of a sudden his phone rang. Joney ended up taking the call outside and we knew it was our chance to talk to him. James explained some of his concerns and asked "Can I be sealed to more than one woman if I get sealed?" The spirit of discernment is real, it all made sense, he was concerned about being sealed to his lovely wife Joney when he hadn't been sealed to his wife who had passed away. We taught him taht God is all knowing, merciful, and loving, and that He would not want James to live with out all those whom he loved. Right at that moment Joney came back in and we taught about the importance of going to church and lviing all aspects of the Gospel. God gives us great things, things that make us happy in this world, and only asks that we follow him. We must choose between the good, better, and best. The best being the gospel of Jesus Christ and our families. 

Almost out of no where James broke out of his joking, funny character, grabbed his sweathearts hand looked her straight in the eyes and said "Joney hunny, I know we need to be sealed. I dont ever want to say goodbye to you." Words truly cannot describe the love and joy which filled her eyes and the room at that moment. My heart was full as I knew of his desire to live with her forever, and I remembered all of my family and felt so thankful for the gospel and knowing that I can live with them forever. No sooner did he finish saying that than he turned to us and said, "But sisters, for the superbowl, I'm choosing the 'good' and perhaps not best" Oh what a great man."

That was by far my most treasured lesson of the MTC. Never have I seen strangers and wanted them to live with each other in heaven so badly than I did at that moment. I am sure that desire will only increase as I continue to be a missionary for this wonderful Church. The gospel is nothing unless we can enjoy the blessings it offers with our families. I will give this mission all I have hoping and praying everyday to teach Gods plan of Happiness for families. And God willing, bring at least one family to the knowledge that they never have to say goodbye. That is what this mission is about, and that is what I desire to do. 

I love  being a missionary, and can't wait to get out into the real world to go and preach the gospel to families. I love you all so much. Read the scriptures, they will  bring more joy into your life than thought humanly possible. Hold your family close, and don't let a day go by that you dont tell them how much you love them.

You are all in my prayers. 

Thank you for everything. Dont worry about me, I'm on the Lord's errand and He is taking very good care of me. 


Sister Hamilton

P.S. The picture is of me with the camera after being interviewed :) 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Week Two is here!

Family and Friends, 

Another week has gone by here at the MTC and I have learned SO much! 

I have learned that God truly is good and He blesses his missionaries with His Spirit more than I could have imagined. His spirit is always with us testifying of the things we say when we teach. It's amazing how bearing a simple testimony of Gospel truths can bring the spirit like "WHAMM" (Word coined by my Branch President). But seriously, it's remarkable that when we testify in lessons, in class, or just in conversation His spirit will come because it's the Spirits job to do so.

I have also learned why missionaries love mail and packages so much. It is always nice to read about the "real world" during tiny breaks or right before bed. I absolutely love hearing about the things you are doing or want to do. Thank you to everyone who has written. Special thanks to Tamazine and Mom who have written me every day without fail so far! Woot Woot! Seriously you guys are the best! Its always nice to know, come dinner time, I will have at least two letters to read. Shout out to Tamazine for also sending me a much needed package of Cheez-its and other treats! Those, along with mom's beef jerky have definitely become my go-to dinners now. Thank you so much! 

We teach a lot! Like 2-3 lessons a day. Its great! When we aren't teaching, we are studying, and when we aren't studying we are probably goofing off. :) What.. everyone needs a little fun in their life! My district is awesome. The elders have a hard time staying focused, but hey! can you blame them? I am always impressed that when it is time to focus, they get right down to business and they teach with such a great spirit and are able to testify so profoundly. It's amazing! I have definitely learned so much from them. We sisters of the district get along pretty great, its basically like having roommates. And one of them is obsessed with you and they follow you everywhere you go. Get it? Haha I always forget that I'm supposed to follow my companion when she stands up to leave the classroom, so I usually refer to myself as the lost puppy dog and then jump up to follow her. Honestly though sometimes that's what it feels like, I'm a little puppy following someone no matter what. It's kind of hard to do. Not going to lie, I look forward to gym time so I can be by myself. My companion is nice and we get along just fine, its just hard to always have to be next to someone. 

With that said, I have been learning a lot about why we need companions and I cant imagine trying to teach without one. I am always amazed how our ideas mesh and build on each other. And this is only week two! Craziness! I can only imagine how it will feel when we are in real life (aka out of the magical land of missionaries).

We teach our teachers who act as investigators, both of them are progressing a lot and even though I know its not really I still love them and want them to continue to get to know their Savior. We also taught an inactive woman from Tonga, that time teaching felt more real. She was so sweet and had such a pure testimony. She doesnt go to church because she was called horrible names when she first moved to America in LA. She said whenever she goes back to Tonga she attends church because she feels welcome. We would all do well to learn from her experience and realize that our own actions toward others really can have a profound impact on their lives. Try to remember that others want to feel welcome and have a friend. I know that by doing so the world would be a better place. 

My companion has been very sick the past few days so I have been spending a lot of time taking her to and from the clinic and residence halls. Poor thing. It has definitely changed the dynamic of our companionship because she always feels like death. I mean I get it though, being sick totally sucks. She has been sleepign a lot yesterday and today so hopefully she will start feeling better. President gave me permission to be in a tricompanionship with Sister Blaylock and Sister Dickerson. That is SOO much fun. We just laugh and have fun but everything works out well and when we teach or even role play the spirit is there so strong. I learn so much from them.

I am still the last one out of bed and first one ready in the morning! woot woot!! Who would have guessed it :) Oh And random WAYYY exciting fact. When I got here I could only do 5 push-ups, yes I know weak sauce. But I have been working  on them every day and doing weights and now I can do 20 real men push-ups! yes, be impressed :) I know I am. Sister Heywood and I are having a competition to see who can do the most by the time we leave. I will win :)

I see Hermana Pickett (Lexi) every day at all the meals and I love it. It is such a blessing to see her and to just talk and have fun. Sister Cheung got here this week and I have seen her a lot too! It's a small world here in the MTC. Oh, and it happend, I got sister Hamilton's mail.. woops! :) Make sure if you write me, it's Mailbox #368 so she doesn't get my mail :) 

Happy Late birthday to Tamazine and happy birthday (today!) to Kristin!! Yay for birthdays!! :) 

Walking around the temple is awesome, every time we leave the MTC grounds I scream.. "FREEDOM!!!" :) It's so beautiful right now, which is nice. Although I do miss the signs "do not slip on the ice. You will fall and break your leg." haha ya that's real. 

Alright time to get back to being a missionary. Write me! And I promise to try to write you back!

I love you all. Life is good but the food is way gross. Just thought I'd state that again :) However, thanks to you guys and the treats and food you are sending me I am not losing too much weight. So THANKS!!! :) 

God is great, I love being apart of His work, and wish you all the best.

With Love, 
Sister Hamilton

Monday, February 4, 2013

MTC Week Numero Uno!!

My Dear Family and Friends, 

Please endure this letter with me as I write all the funny and sarcastic remarks I am not allowed to say in the MTC. :) 

Let me paint a beautiful picture for you of what the MTC is like... The MTC is a magical place. I rest my head to sleep at night promptly at 10:30 pm. When the lights are turned off our room turns into Disneyland with a Katy Perry sponsored Fire Work show as our sheets and blankets create sparks from the static. We also live the Katniss dream here as we survive the Hunger Games. I do mean quite literal hunger games.. we are hungry all day long. They place us in districts (I'm in District 5.. look it up), and each night before bed read names of individuals over the loud speakers. There is no need to fret, these Elders and Sisters do not die, they merely get their visas approve and get to leave this magical place. The food is never ending, every Elders dream, except for one Elder in my District who is afraid of getting fat. Last but not least, the MTC is like the CIA building! How cool is that. No one in or out without a handy dandy name badge with a key code in it (Dad, its just like ones for the Jail..haha..). Plus, no need for cameras to watch over, you have a companion next to you at all times except for the bathroom. 

If you couldn't tell I'm having a hard time being serious all the time. All day I think of these funny things to say and often times I do and they are followed by a quick "SISTER HAMILTON!" from my companion, who then politely asks me to be more serious and focus on the work. Mom and Dad, I promise I am focused on the work. I just want to enjoy my time here, and sometimes a joke is needed when you have been studying all day.

Let me give you a brief synopsis of my time here thus far because there are lots of people waiting to use the computer here in the Laundry room. 

Each day we wake up at 6:30 I have surprisingly been the first one ready EVERY DAY. And so today I decided I earned 10 minutes of laying in bed time, where I still ended up being the first one ready. Weird right? I am just trying to remember to be patient and not annoyed when we are a few minutes late to things. 

My district is one of the first districts in the history of the MTC to be 50% 50%. We have 6 elders and 6 sisters. Myself, my companion, and one other sister are going to GA while the rest in our District are going to KY, there is another district that got here the same day as us that is all going to GA. So in all we have 8 Elders and 6 Sisters going to GA. I love my district, we have a lot of fun. Our teachers told us "Work hard, play hard, and enjoy the MTC" So that is what we are trying to do. I'm really thankful for studying so much at college because it really helped me to be able to focus all day in a classroom studying. We literally get to a classroom by 7:30 and don't leave until bed time. its the same class room each day, thank goodness it has one window and a blue wall. We have a BEAUTIFUL view of... another building. Again, bare with the sarcasm. :) 

Thursday was good, just class and orientations. We met our Branch Pres, he's awesome. Gym time today was great. I met a Herma going to Brazil and she could only use her mission language so I had fun picking out the words that sounded like spanish and trying to speak to her. It actually worked and we talked for about 10 minutes! Success! :) I always look for someone to talk to in other languages just to hear them practice and have variety in my life. Also I write with a million colored pens because its the only thing different I can do. (Now I realize I might sound like a downer, I'm not I promise, it is really good, and I'm happy! Its just very regumented and scheduled.) 

Friday was much better than Thursday. We went to class at 7:30am and had a million hours of study time. We were supposed to have orientation but it got canceled so we literally studied from 7:30 till lunch at 11:30. It was good, I learned a lot. Studied some spanish to break up the time. That was fun, as always :) After Lunch we had another hour of personal study and then class until dinner at 4:30. After dinner we had class until 8:30. After class was over our schedule had been changed but they hadn't told us what we were supposed to do. So we asked our teacher if we could go back to our residence even though its not allowed until 9:30. When we told her of our day she said "Oh ya! You worked hard, you deserve it! Go write in your journals and relax, write home and just have fun." That was BEAUTIFUL! It was so nice to an hour and a half to just do what you wanted. (30 min for Comp planning). We got mail on friday so it was fun to be made fun of from the district for having the MOST LETTERS. I got almost 20. :) Thanks everyone! Thanks for using DearElder.com. I got them and had so much fun reading them with my extra time. It was great. I promise to write you back when I have time. Perhaps tonight because its P-Day.

Today we had class in the morning and then a Sister is sick so I went to relieve her companion and so I was in our room for 4 hours just studying. She slept most the time. When she woke up we went on a walk and she let me speak some spanish to her. Really its like my guilty pleasure :) So that was fun. Now I'm writing you! woot woot!! :) 

Well I have to go, my 30 minutes is up. I can't figure out how to load pictures so I'll try next week. It's weird being called Sister Hamilton all the time. No one knows my name here... its so weird! Well, life is good. I'm happy and getting used to my new life. My district is great, no complaints with my companion, she is sweet. It's nice that we hang out with all the girls from our district prettty much all the time so its just like having roommates. Sorry for the typos, I'm typing crazy fast. 

Last but not least, as Lindseys letter asked... how is the food??? It is..... drum roll please... GROSS. Ya.. Its okay though, the fruit is seriously amazing. I have eaten my weight in fruit everyday I'm pretty sure. And I have peanut butter and crackers every night.

Also a special shout out to James Peter Grant for sending me doughnuts! Thanks so much James! And Elder Murray sent me some scotcheroos(?). They were good. If you are going to send me food you are way nice. Please send me goood stuff because I dont eat much.. Beef Jerky would be nice, Mom.

Oh, and.. The Church is true. I love studying it. It's amazing how fast the spirit comes when you give a simple testimony. We have taught twice so far and I love it. 

Okay I love you!!


Sister Hamilton