Sunday, August 25, 2013

Put your big girl panties on!!

Hi everyone!

 This is Sister Jacobs and I (a sis I went on exchange with) in "Big Girl Panties!" Her comp is really struggling and so her comps mom custom made these big girl panties and told her daughter to put on her "big girl panties" then go find joy in the work. They are so funny! I was so glad Sis Jacobs showed them to me. I totally thought it was something Mom would have thought of :) 

Random story: Have I told you that I got the hiccups.. about 1.5 months ago.. and they haven't left yet? They aren't super frequent.. Only about 3-4 times an hour on average. But they are ridiculous and soo lame. Sometimes it sounds like a huge almost gasp.. and they are really loud. So loud.. We were tracting one day this week and someone happened to be in their yard, I hiccupped then heard "Yikes! That one hurt, do you need some water?" haha Yes, that really happened.. All I can say is #southernhospitality
Sister Nielsen and I have had a wonderful week here in Johns Creek (&Webb Bridge and Dacula). I have learned a lot this week! I really love the opportunity to go on exchanges and learn from and help the Sisters in Roswell and Lilburn. I learn so much from them and its fun to get to know them all. It is kind of a bummer to never see Sister Nielsen, but we're just making sure we have a bunch of fun the few days we actually are around each other. We experienced many miracles this week, and for that I am truly thankful and humbled that the Lord is trusting us with these miracles. I'd like to share a couple of them with y'all! So away we go!
One of our members introduced us to her friend Shelby, who visited her in BYU-Idaho and unofficially took the first lesson there by a few returned missionary roommates. Shelby loved the spirit she felt at BYU-I and has loved church the 2 times she has attended our meetings. Honestly teaching her reminds me of my wonderful roommate Emily Sellars, and the great experience it was to be there with her when the missionaries taught her. :) Shelby is great! She has some of the strongest faith I have ever seen and great questions. Shelby has accepted the invitation to be baptized and says "As soon as I know its true, I want to be baptized. I mean, why wouldn't I?" She is already praying about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. She really is amazing and so fun!
Another miracle happened at church yesterday when a member of our congregation brought a young man into our gospel principles class. We talked with him after class (not knowing anything about him) and I felt impressed to not just introduce myself as "Sister Hamilton" but as a missionary and representative for Jesus Christ. Davis responded by saying "My name is Davis, and I've always wanted to be a missionary!" How cool is that!! Sister Nielsen and I sat down and talked to him about what brought him to church. He told us that he was simply walking past the church building and decided to come in. He doesn't know anything about Mormons or what we believe but he said he felt so good in the building and lately has been wondering about "how to be saved." He said he heard Sacrament meeting from the foyer and downloaded the Book of Mormon on his phone. We told him that missionaries teach people how to come closer to Christ and feel His spirit. Davis asked us when we could start teaching him! Truly my heart is full of gratitude and thanks!
Saturday was Timothy's birthday. Timothy is Sister Johnson's special-needs son, who turned 34. Woot woot!! :)  We got a phone call from Sister Johnson needed our help in the morning because she had too many groceries she couldn't carry and wanted everything to be perfect for his birthday. We then had breakfast with them after our studies. I did it.. I had official southern GRITS. Not my fav.. but the smile on Timothy and Sis Johnson were well worth it! :) Timothy opened his presents and then went to his room. He came back as Sis Johnson was telling us about the party she was doing that night and wanted our help getting ward members there, he gave her the biggest hug and kiss and said "I love you mom!" Honestly it was just the sweetest thing. She gives all for him and he loves her so much. We came by that night with a bunch of ward members including the Bishop and He gave me a huge hug and thanked me for helping with his party. It doesn't get much better than that. Knowing you really made a difference.
If there is one thing I know it's that God loves every singe one of His children. He loves them more than we know. And some of my most cherished memories and thankful moments are when I have felt an overwhelming love for His children. Its real. Pres. Uchtdorf describes the love of God as "not a greeting card love" and I love that. The love of God is real, its something you can feel and its something that empowers and enables individuals to rise to their infinite potential. I feel it each time I think of Connor and how much he changed my life working with him, along with the students I taught at the Jr. High/Middle School. I feel it every time I think of my wonderful family. I feel it often as I talk to people on the street and when I ask "Heavenly Father, do you love them?" before someone comes to the door. If you haven't felt that love for someone or for yourself in a long time, all you have to do is ask. The peace and love will fill your heart with joy. I know it will. And it will change your life forever.
I love you all! Please have a great week, and enjoy the sunshine wherever you are! Because it seems that GA only gets rain.. I'm not a huge fan.. But its ALL GOOD!! :)
I love you!
Sister Julie Hamilton

3 great iPhotos

Hi everyone!
Its been a really good week! Like really good :) We've had some really wonderful experiences and also some hilarious ones. Take the title of this email for example. This sweet woman, she was kind of a nut.. Told us she wasn't Christian anymore.. when we asked if she had a religion now she responded "Now I'm a Witch!" No joke..
We met quite a few "bashers" this week. Aka people who are not happy that you are LDS and want you to know that you are going to hell. Perhaps the two "best" lines we hear this week were "I ENCOURAGE YOU TO REPENT FROM YOUR MORMONISM!" and we asked one man if we could say a prayer with him and his family and he responded "Absolutely not. But I WILL be saying a prayer tonight that you don't go preach Mormonism to my neighbors. I'd hate for any of them to get sucked in." We thanked him for his faith in Jesus Christ and happily moved on to the next home :) A woman told me not too long ago "Hunny, you're not just in the Bible Belt, you're in the BUCKLE!" And so instead of getting hurt or frustrated when I have experiences that remind me that we are in the "buckle" I just smile and laugh. Want to know what's amazing? I still love those people. I love their devotion to whatever it is they devote their lives to. I find it inspiring. I know God loves them, and I feel blessed to feel that love for them as well.
Now here are some fun things/memories/experiences from the week:
Sister Nielsen and I choose a challenge each time we go tracting, so yesterday we made it a goal to share a scripture with on average) every 3rd person we talked to. And you want to know what? We did it! Its really testing my scripture knowledge as I keep trying to find scriptures that fit the conversation well, but its fun. :) 
We are teaching a man named Danny. Danny struggles with alcoholism and has the biggest desire to learn so that he can stop drinking. He really loved the Word of Wisdom, and its actually what we taught first before giving him a Book of Mormon.  He absolutely loved each scripture we read with him and when we read Moroni 10:3-5 he said "Sisters.. God wrote that for me. He wants me to talk to him and ask from the bottom of my heart. Do you think if I do that, that he'll help me stop drinking?" Honestly I felt the spirit so strong as I saw a man who had never heard of the Book of Mormon apply it immediately to his life. That is the power of the scriptures. Its real, and its beautiful.
I was in Roswell on exchange over 2 months ago when we found Marilyn. I loved her then and I love her even more now. You see, I went back to Roswell on exchange this week and we stopped by to see her. She's been meeting with the missionaries and wants to be baptized. When she opened the door and saw me she cried and said "Oh I remember you!! come here!" And gave me the biggest hug. She smiled and said, "do you notice anything different?" Before I could answer she said "I'm clean! I haven't smoked in almost 2 months! You see, I felt so guilty smoking in front of you. There was something about you, something special and I wanted it. So I made a plan. And I quit smoking in about 3 weeks just before the missionaries came back to teach me. You did that for me." That is a miracle I will hold onto forever.
This week I had someone that we are working with, who I love dearly tell me something that will have made my ENTIRE mission worth it. She told me "No matter what happens, if I come back to the church or not. I want you to know that you have changed my life. You have bridged the gap between me and the Church. And you have helped me remember how to let the Savior heal me and for that I will always be thankful."
I want you all to know that I did not come on my mission to see how many "baptisms" I can have. The number of them really mean nothing to me. I came here with the hopes that PERHAPS I MIGHT help at least one of Gods Children remember how much He loves them. That's what its all about. And hearing that from her will never leave my mind. Each week I find many reasons of why my mission was worth it. This week it has been worth it to hear that, see Marilyn, Danny, and others have just a little more light radiating from them and a bigger smile on their face.
The Gospel changes lives. This I know. It has changed mine, and I encourage you to let it change yours. I know it can if we let it.
I love you all
Sister Julie Hamilton

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why Hello There!

Why Hello there everyone!
I hope you are all doing great, that everyone is healthy and happy and enjoying summer. Let me give you a recap of some of the highlights of the week.
We have had a few really powerful lessons this week. Its always a blessing when the teaching appointments you have end up like the ones described in D&C 50:22  "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are aedified and brejoice together."
We are still teaching Jeff and this week we had a great lesson with him. We were teaching him the restoration and we taught him how Christ called apostles on the earth when He was setting up His church.  I then opened my mouth to keep going and saw myself teaching Jeff about how right after Christ died the apostles came together to call one more so there would be 12 (having to replace Judas). I honestly have never taught that in a lesson.. it just kind of came out of my mouth. We used that example to show how once the apostles have God's priesthood power and authority, they can call more apostles under the direction of Christ through revelation. As we then taught Joseph Smith's first vision we asked "Well Jeff, what do you think just happened?" He sat there in silence for a bit, then responded "I think Christ just called an apostle who could then call others." His sweet wife Mary says "Oh my goodness! So that's how we still have apostles today! That's amazing!" Honestly I can even feel the Spirit now as I can picture him really searching for an answer and allowing the Spirit to teach him. It really was a wonderful lesson. I learned so much. I am completely amazed each time the Spirit seems to just give me the words to say in the lessons.
On Tuesday Sister Nielsen and I were doing our companion study and going over our plans for the day when we both remembered we had told this woman, Eve, that we could come back this morning. Eve wasn't necessarily.. interested.. When we knocked on her door originally. She told us it wasn't a good time but that because we were God's servants she'd let us come back. I truthfully didn't think much of it. Sis Nielsen and I were debating whether or not to go.. thinking "well.. if she isn't there then we'll be early for district meeting.. we won't have a key.. so we'll be stuck in the parking lot." I know.. STUPID EXCUSE! You don't have to tell me.. I bet you are wondering if we went huh.. :) I'll tell you!
As we kept studying again at the same time we both just stood up and said "We have to keep our word.. We have to go." And off we went. Eve answered the door and thanked us for coming and let us in right away. She sent her oldest off to gather her other kids and sat down and talked to us. She said "I want to hear about the message you have. I know its important. I felt peace, even from just talking to you. Then as soon as I sent you away I felt completely guilty. And I prayed all week, especially this morning,  that you would show up. I wouldn't have blamed you if you didn't though.." I was shocked.. completely shocked! I didn't know people could feel the Spirit just from talking to us.. What was the best is after we said a prayer with her she smiled and with tears said "The peace is back, thank you." She asked us to teach her family next week. Aka tomorrow :) But we have a meeting.. so we went by today before emailing to see if we could change it. She was SO thankful to have us come by again and we got a different time set up to go tomorrow. We shared with her some scriptures and spent a lot of time just getting to know her children. It is perhaps one of the most special miracles I saw this week. God certainly is aware of His children.
We had "Mission Leadership Counsel" for 2 days this week (Thurs, Friday) for.. 7 hours both days. It was a lot, but it was really great. I learned SO much. Sis Nielsen took back some great ideas of what we can do to help the people living in our area who we work with and also what we can do to help our Sisters specifically.
One of the things President Wolfert trained us on was "praying for miracles, and then expecting them" So Sister Nielsen and I prayed for a miracle on Friday and then decided we better "expect" it. And let me tell you about the result.. :)
We went to see someone we were teaching and they weren't home. So we decided to stop what we were doing and look around. We figured Heavenly Father knew we would be going there so we needed to see the real reason we were in the area. We were about to leave but decided to go to one more block of homes. We met a woman, Roxanne, who was smoking and looked like she'd had a rough day. She allowed us to say a prayer with her and she said she felt so much peace afterward. As we were about to introduce the Book of Mormon I decided to switch things up a bit and show her the pictures and use them to show the stories of the Book of Mormon. We finished and she kept quiet for a bit.. Then as she was asking us questions about the resurrection she opened it back up to the picture of Christ in the Americas and said "This just opens a whole new world. This is amazing. Please tell me this is true." :) As we walked away we looked back and saw her reading the Book of Mormon. We'll be teaching her again this week. Truly a miracle! :)
Random story.. I carried a Korean Book of Mormon around with me at church today.. And one of our Korean members brought a Korean friend.. So I got to give it out! :) And She loved church and wants to learn more.. What a tender mercy! :)
I heart attacked someone for the first time on my mission.. Lots of Hearts taped to Ms. Hamilton's door :) And she loved it. #sistermissionaryforsure

Well that's probably all for now. A lot of people have decided to stop learning.. all at once so that's a little rough. But the Lord has blessed us to find more people to teach. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary.
I love you all! The mailbox is empty.. hint hint.. 
Sister Hamilton

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Y'all got any money?

Well its begun. Another transfer come and gone. Where has the time gone? I'm being serious.. where did it go? Its been an interesting week. Its gone so fast, but at the same time it seems like a million years since I last wrote home. Probably because a lots of things have changed since my last email. Missionaires I served around went home. Sister Beasley headed off to the sticks. I got a new companion. We were told we are incharge of 2 zones of sisters, not one. More than doubling the amount of Sisters we get to keep track of. Taught a good amount of lessons. Met some great people. And have had to develop a new motto because of the humidity.. Ready? I think it is best shown with a hashtag.. #bighairdontcare My hair is getting bigger and shorter.. but I haven't had it cut.. NICE! haha
Mitch! You're friend, Sister Kelly, is being trained by my trainee Sister Beasley! Small world? I think yes! They are also in the same Zone (Stake) as Sister Megan Mitton. I'll get to see her and her new missionary at Zone Conference in a few weeks. We'll try to get pictures :) Also, random fact of the day Daniel Grim went home this week. It still shocks me that we were in the same mission. We figured that out like 3 months ago.. can't remember if I told y'all or not.
Well.. I hit my 6 month mark so we took some time to celebrate it along with the Elders by doing an old fashioned burning.. Don't worry. Smoky the Bear was present and we did indeed prevent forrest fires. Sis Beasley burned a sock, I burned a very tired shirt, Elder Johnson slacks, and Elder Robinson an old and tired suit. I'll attach a picture. :)
We did a lot of good ol' fashioned service this week. Moving, weeding, paining, staining a deck, etc. It wasn't too hot so it was really nice. We have lots more set up for the next week or so too! I like when we do more hands on service because it is a change of pace. Not to mention its nice that people are finally recognizing that Sisters CAN do service. And the Elders aren't the only one that can. But.. I must say.. my favorite change of pace activity for this week was.. Making cookies :)
OH! before I forget. This week.. I ate frog legs! Add that to the list.. :)
Here are two fun experiences from the week..
Sister Nielsen said something like "we're here to leave the Saviors peace and blessings with you." So the man stuck out his hand, as if he was waiting for something.. So she says "Oh, well actually its a prayer.." To which he pulls his hand back, the smile leaves his face, and he shakes his head and goes "No.. thanks." And shuts the door. HAHA
We started teaching this man, Cortez, on the steps in his apartment complex. His cute little daughter was there running around too. At first he was not friendly, but we offered to say a prayer to bring him peace and he agreed. After that he copmletely changed and was asking us questions about how he could feel that way always. We gave him a Book of Mormon, taught about it and read from it. (It was a WONDERFUL experience!) Then the funny happened.. His friend walks up and starts to kind of bash Mormons and what not and says "Well as for me I stick to the REAL Bible." To which Crotez responded, "Yo man! Don't you dare put down this book. This is Jesus' Book! See, His name is on the cover, and look His name is on their tags.. its His church. Come on man." Never have I ever had someone we just met and taught briefly about the Book of Mormon then turn around and defend it and basically bear their testimony of its truthfulness. If that isn't the coolest thing, I'm not sure what is! It definitely shocked me and made me have a BIG ol' smile on my face! :)
We are still seeing lots and lots of miracles here in Johns Creek. What a blessing! :) We are continuing to teach Jeff, Ms. Hamilton, Q, and a few others who are really progressing. The joy that comes as you watch someone learn about the gospel and allow the Spirit to touch their heart is amazing. I'm thankful for each moment.
We stopped by to see a family that I've never met in my 3 months here and to our great suprise Brother Beckstrand was home. He is the complete definition of a retired rancher. Cowboy boots, hat, buckle, and plaid shirt. And oh my is he hilarious with the best stories! I feel like I've gone hunting/fishing a thousand times with how vivid his stories are.. haha. He was sad that his wife didn't get to meet us so they had us over for dinner a few days later. Sis Beckstrand teased/blamed Sis Neilsen and I for being the type of people who encourage her daughter to try jumping off bridges into rivers, glow in the dark hide-n-go-see etc. up at BYU-Idaho. :) They are just the sweetest and most loving people. They came to church this Sunday and asked us to come by their house each week to share a message. I already love them so much already, I can't wait to see them each week!
Well I think that's probably all I have for the week.. I can guess your eyes are burning from reading so much and you probably didn't read most of it.. haha :) Just kidding?! I hope :)
I hope you all know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am thankful for the prayers you say for me, I can definitely feel them and I know they strengthen me to go just a little further each day. I love this work. It is exhausting and hard, but it is more than worth it. I am thankful for the gospel and for God's plan for families. I know without a doubt that He is aware of each of us and more happiness and joy than we can imagine planned to come our way.
Elder Nelson says "Ask the missionaries, they can help you!" And I don't know that we can always help, but I promise that we do our best to help! :) But speaking as a missionary.. can you do me a favor and "Ask the missionarie!" becuase they need your help.. We need your help. You'll never know how much your acts of service, smiles, or hugs can do to bless the lives of missionaires.
I love you all!!
Love, Sister Hamilton