Friday, January 3, 2014

"Just tell them you're Catholic and they'll go away."

Oh my! I don't even know where to begin! This week was absolutely wonderful, truly one of the best. It just so happens that it was also one of the hardest, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Let me just start by saying I had a WONDERFUL Christmas! Christmas for missionaries seems to be Magical, and mine wasn't anything less than that! I am so thankful that I got to see all of my brothers/sisters faces on google hangout! I had never heard of that before btw..:) And of course I loved seeing all the little ones!! They are all so big! :) Mom, I'm glad that bruise wasn't real and it was just from a reindeer haha! I am so blessed with a wonderful family! Sister Pabst said "Oh Sister Hamilton, what I am going to do when we aren't companions anymore and I miss my Hamilton updates? I mean when I saw your family I felt like I knew them so much that they were my family." So you should know.. I clearly talk about y'all a lot! haha :) 

Oh speaking of saying y'all.. So once upon a time, aka last week, I was talking to a family at a door and I said "We completely understand, we just hope y'all have a blessed day." Yup.. its happened. Those words officially rolled off the tongue! I suppose I have finally learned the southern language.. A blessed day? That is SOOO southern. YIKES!! haha Its weird when I catch myself using their phrases like "over yonder" "a piece up the road" "cut the lights" and "can you put that in the buggie?" So.. when I come home.. have mercy on my grammar and phrases.. haha :) 

Let me share some highlights from the week:

Sister Pabst and I on Santa's lap :) 
Christmas Eve: After district meeting we had lunch at Panda Express, it was the closest we could get to A Christmas Story.. :) Then we stopped by a senior living center to visit "Addie" Kelly a 94 year old woman, who basically started the church in South Georgia. Each Sunday she reserved the township pavilion and put in the newspaper "Mormons meet here" where she would teach her family.. she did that alone for a couple years, then one Sunday missionaries showed up. And now there is a stake there. So we went to visit her, and due to her dimensea she believed she was in the 11th grade. We helped her make phone calls on her disconnected phone, and then sang her some Christmas songs. It seemed each time we sang she came back to today and would say "Oh i love that song." "My Savior lives." and things of that nature, it was so special to see her. 

We had Christmas Eve dinner with the Hills, it was so fun! And truthfully it didn't feel like Christmas Eve until we were in their home. We finished off the night Caroling with the Johnson family. It was SO fun! We got to meet a lot of people and it was so exciting to see them offer gifts to their friends and introduce us to them. They were so excited to give Joy to the World CD's and be missionaries too, how fun! 

Christmas Day: Clearly Christmas Day was the best, obviously! Santa came to us at multiple houses, including our apartment! :) I got scarves, a knit headband, and lots of treats. This ward really took us in, what a blessing! 

Rest of the week: 
We made crepes for a family in our ward, the Anguianos, from Guatemala. They are so wonderful! Can I just say it was SO fun to make crepes for them in their home and share one of my favorite family traditions with them? Thanks for teaching me how to make them dad! And don't worry, I didn't forget the eggs :) 

I went on Exchange with Sister Perrins (2nd time with her) in Gainesville. Gainesville just so happens to be the poultry capital of the United States, just sayin'. And its true.. I saw a TON of chickens and roosters running loose in the neighborhoods we tracted in. I wanted SOOO badly to just run after them and try to corner one and catch it.. haha Sister Perrins wouldn't let me.. :) I did make a new friend from Rwanda. Her name is Theresea and she is a Rwandan refugee, from the Genocide. Talking to her was amazing! She joined the church 10 or so years ago in ATL and moved to Gainesville recently. We talked about miracles asked if she'd ever seen one.. After a long pause she responded.. "I think I have.. when everyone in my home was murdered.. and I saw.. and I wasn't killed.. The Lord spared me.. I think that is a miracle." Truly it is. I am so thankful for the love that she showed us in her home that night. One miracle in my life is being here in Georgia, I'm certain there is no other time I would have had the blessing and opportunity to meet so many people from around the world than here. The way they have blessed my life, taught me, loved me, and the way I have come to love them in itself is a miracle. I am thankful for their perspectives of life and how they have changed my life. 

That's me with my ice cream truck in chickenville! aka Gainesville!
As we were knocking doors this week we came to a home and I heard someone say "Ughhh, the mormons are coming." I thought to myself, is that Paul Revere in there? The Red Coats are coming! haha Next I hear the response of her friend "Just tell them you're Catholic and they'll go away." HA I thought. We introduced ourselves and immediately she said "You know, I'm Catholic." So I quickly responded "You are? that is so wonderful! I have many catholic friends and I respect your faith. Lets just say I totally caught her off guard :) She responded .. "you don't understand I'm a CATHOLIC. Aka not interested." and shut the door. haha But hey! I got a good laugh out of it! 

Do you remember Misty? She came to church a couple of weeks ago when President Wolfert spoke. Well this week we felt like we needed to stop by to see her and her family again. They immediately welcomed us in and we sat at the Kitchen table where they were about to play apples to apples. Next thing I know their 7yr old daughter has placed some cards in my hand for us to play. After a fun round of apples to apples Misty and Ben asked us to share a message :) As we taught about the Saviors love for us they really opened up and Misty said "you know.. I've been thinking a lot about what that man said at Church.. and I feel so much love and peace when you come over, when you call, and when I go to church. So I've been thinking about who I can share the good news with. And I think my neighbor can use the peace its bringing me. Umm.. did someone we are just starting to teach just say they want to share the message with their friends? Why yes they did! :) It was so neat to see them starting to recognize the joy that comes from the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They told their mother (who is in our ward) that they love us and would welcome us in their home any time to share messages. They also came to church again yesterday. Its a miracle! :) 

Well.. I have officially spent just about all the time I have writing this huge letter.. I hope your eyes don't hurt! :) Honestly, I am doing fantastic. I love being a missionary! I love the scriptures. I am thankful for the revelatory experiences we have as we truly search them. As we apply the scriptures in our lives and look for how the story was placed there for us, we start to see that the Lord answers our prayers through His Holy Word. The Savior lives, I know He does. If there is one thing I have come to know this past year is that God's love for each and every one of us is endless. He knows our circumstances and He knows our potential. If we turn to Him in our trials He will increase our strength, capability, and most importantly our joy. 

I pray all of us have the most joyous year here in 2014! Let the good times, great times, and miracles begin!! I love you!

Sister Julie Hamilton

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