Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dare to be Mormon!

Hey Everyone!

Well.. it happened. I got a phone call from President Wolfert this morning thanking me for my 6 months of service as a Sister Training Leader and telling me that he'd give me a break from leadership for a little while. :) I will be leaving this wonderful country land that I love for another place in the country on the west side of the mission that I am sure I will also love. The area name is "Alatoona" but I have no clue what "city" aka town it is in. I know its west of Canton GA and Woodstock GA, and is the border of the mission. My new companion will be Sister Harris, I know absolutely nothing about her besides that she just finished her 3 months being trained. So it should be exciting! 

We had a wonderful week here in Coal Mountain, AH! I am going to miss this cute place. I don't really know exactly what to talk about this week so let me just start rambling and see what comes :) 

A view of the Sunrises that I watch every morning as I jump rope. I'll definitely miss those when I'm not living here with Grandma and Grandpa Goulding anymore!
First let me talk about how New Years was completely uneventful. I was asleep before 10:30 and even slept through the fireworks welcoming in the New Year. And truthfully it didn't hit me until about 10pm New Years day as I wrote Jan 1, 2014 in my journal. How is it already 2014? YIKES! So as I've been thinking of my year I've decided I had a great 2013. Here are some of the things I included on the list I made myself :)

In 2013:
  • I talked to over 5,000 people that I had not known before.
  • I ate some of the weirdest things imaginable.. none of the least of which were cow-intestines as pasta noodles,fish eyeballs, and horse meat. 
  • I saw more miracles than I ever had in my life.
  • I learned what it really meant to feel of the love of God. 
  • I learned first hand that sometimes it would be better if people didn't answer the door.. but then again.. I'd miss too many funny stories if they didn't! :)
  • I served as companions for at least a day with 51 of the 98 sisters in the mission.
Sister Winegar and I at CiCI's ya.. never going there again! haha But hey it was fun to go with those Sisters :)
Here are my top experiences from the week: 
  • Do any of you remember Danny M.? I found Danny tracting with Sister Nielsen back in Johns Creek. We taught him and then he stopped meeting with us.. He was one who called us up one day and said "Sisters, its time. Please come teach me again. I've really been thinking and I need your message." I was able to teach him two more times and see him come to church before I got transferred. I'll never forget the lessons we had with him as they were some of the most spiritual. I'd never before experienced what it was like to promise such specific blessings from the Lord and see them fulfilled as when I taught Danny. Well I saw the Johns Creek Elders this week at some meetings and they were happy to report that Danny has decided to be baptized on January 25th, 2014! They wanted me to know right away because they said Danny still talks about me and how I'm his favorite missionaries. In fact, he asked them if one of them would trade spots with me so I could be there at his baptism! haha..
  • I called the Chris and Kim, my wonderful Seventh-day Adventist that I found tracting a couple of weeks ago, to see if we could come and teach them. They wanted us to come this Friday, but I had a feeling I'd be transferred so I told her that I thought I would be moving on Wednesday and Kim just gasped and said "Well then you better come over Tuesday because we can not have an angel leave without us saying good-bye." It was such a blessing to hear how excited she was when she recognized who I was on the phone. I am so thankful to have learned from their devotion and faith in Jesus Christ and am so glad to be able to share my testimony with them one last time before I leave. 
  • Tracting on New Years day.. NO BUENO! Everyone was either completely hung over or did not want anything to do with us. Why you ask? Oh that's because in the South College Football is more important than anything, and I do mean anything. So hang-overs meet College Bowl games=missionaries worst nightmare. 
  • As we were walking in an older more run down trailer-park we found a young Hispanic family sitting around a camp fire outside their house trying to keep warm. The young father welcomed us over and offered us to stand by the fire and get warm for awhile. As we were talking with them I loved watching his face light up as he introduced us to his family which included his wife, 2 yr old son, and 8 month old son. Once we left I watched as he kissed his wife and kids and went out from the home in search of wood, picking up all the sticks that he could. My heart was so full of love and gratitude yet at the same time seemed to break as I saw this man struggle to keep his family warm, but loved them enough to do anything he could. I am thankful for the many lessons I learned from watching them and pray they will be able to stay warm this next week as Georgia gets temperatures lower than they have had in 30 years. 
  • We went and saw Addie again our 94 year old grandma in the ward, wow I just love her! I learned a lot from our visit with her and the title of this email comes from that experience. At first when we got there Addie seemed very confused and must have thought we were there to rob her or something as she would say "Do you want my money? Well you can have it! I want outta here!" She went as far as to try to punch Sister Pabst (moving her fist about an inch a minute) and tried to kick me. haha Things changed however as we showed her the Book of Mormon and she recognized the Savior and Joseph Smith. Still a little aggravated she asked "Do you believe in this book?" To which we happily replied "Yes we do! Do you?" The Spirit filled the room and I thought I might cry as I watched this sweet 94 yr old fold her arms, bow her head, and pray to herself. She prayed for quite some time but as she looked up she said in the softest and most sweet voice, "Yes. I believe. I believe in the Book of Mormon." The more we talked the more she would blurt out "I believe." "I'm a Mormon." "I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!" I loved too that she said "Wait.. I'm a mormon.. so why are you talking to me?" haha She's so cute!
Me at the Shinkles! I will miss that family soo much!!! They are the ones that got me Boudins and always made me feel like a part of their family, they are pretty much the best!! :)
What I learned the most was her devotion to her faith. As I had mentioned before, she was scared when we got there and wanted to leave. Before we left that fear came back to her and she told us that all of her family members were dead. We know her children and so we know they aren't but it broke my heart that she thought everyone was dead and that was why she was in this home. She said "My husband was a Mormon, and he's dead.. the killed him for being a Mormon." and went on to say how she believed all of her family members were killed because of their faith and that she too would probably be killed because of her faith.. Not 30 seconds after she declared again, that she believed in the Book of Mormon and belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, I know the threat on her life is not real. Yet, I am still amazed at her courage in declaring her faith when she believed her life to be in danger. It reminded me of the primary poem "Dare to be a Mormon, dare to stand alone; Dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known." I am thankful for her testimony and devotion to the gospel, and I pray that I am always willing to boldly declare that "I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." 

Overall, it has been a wonderful year. You know, when I was getting my mission call and before I'd spent a long time in Georgia I was under the impression that the Lord sends His missionaries to the place around the world where the people they are supposed to uplift, teach etc live, aka where the missionary was needed. But the longer I am here the more I realize how completely wrong I was. I am sure I could have found people to teach in Argentina, Russia, Oklahoma, Thai Land, etc.. And I probably would have touched their lives for the better. But I wasn't sent to Georgia so I could touch the lives of the people here.. It wasn't because they needed me.. Rather its because I needed them. 

I am now so thoroughly convinced that the Lord sends His missionaries to the part of the world where the people the missionaries need reside. I needed the influence of these wonderful Georgians in my life, and I didn't even know it until I got here! However, the Lord knew that I would be blessed by their experiences and their lives so He sent me here to learn from them and be loved by them. I am so thankful to know that the people I need are here in Georgia, some of which I know are over there in Alatoona. I cannot wait to continue to meet them and be changed by them these next 7 months. I really couldn't be happier to be here in Georgia! 

I love you! And hope you all have a wonderful week! Remember, don't mail anything to my address in Cumming like you were supposed to last transfer. Everything goes back to the mission office now :) Thanks!! 

Sister Hamilton

1150 Cole Rd SW
Lilburn GA 30047

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