Tuesday, March 25, 2014

There is Joy

Well Hey There!
Another week has flown by here in Georgia. Spring is almost here, things are starting to bloom and the sun is shining! Well.. usually. It's still raining some days. The pixie dust pollen hasn't quite come out to play yet, but it I remember correctly it should any day now. So that will be a treat! haha I've never been so thankful to not have allergies than living here in Georgia and watching so many people have allergies.. Looks rough. 

So.. I'm not exactly sure what all I should share with y'all. This week was so good and so rough and so strange all at the same time. You confused yet? Yup! So am I. haha 
I don't have a lot of time so I'm just going to write briefly about some of the things that happened this week and maybe even open up about some of the hard things about serving specifically in the south. But probably not too much, because I really do just love it here! 
I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints truly is the Lords church, and it is such a blessing and a privilege to teach people about it everyday. The Lord truly blesses His missionaries and He gives us strength and wisdom far beyond our own capacities, and I definitely need that! One of the hardest things in our mission (and I do mean our mission, as in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission, our Southern States missions) is the influence of anti-Mormon theology and literature, often put out by other churches. Virtually everyone we meet has been taught something by their pastor, friend, or the internet regarding the church. Its not uncommon for people to talk to us after our first lesson with them and explain to us that they have talked to their church leader and then proceed to call us liars and such.. Its also interesting when we have people we teach bring their church leaders to our lessons and then allow that person to try to argue with us or as they call it here "bible bash" which I firmly believe is pointless so I'm sure I frustrate a lot of people because I simply wont do it.

Why did I just tell you all of that? Something I'm sure you already knew. Well because it was one of those weeks.. It reminds me of a talk titled "Teach the Atonement" to missionaries by Elder Holland. In it he says that at one time or another on their missions, missionaries will shed at least one tear of sorrow. Sorrow for the pain and anguish of those we teach, or often sorrow as we watch those who begin to learn abandon their newly found faith and leave. Truly it is the hardest thing to watch. No missionary ever wants to talk with someone who had joined the church and hear them say "I won't ever walk back into that church because.." Truly our hearts break as we see others become filled with frustration and anger where peace and love once filled. Needless to say, this week was one of those tears of sorrows week. 
With that said, I don't ever give up on anyone. Nor do I believe anyone should ever give up. We all face trials, we all have doubts, but the beautiful thing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is it is designed to lift us, help us to learn, and bring us closer to our heavenly home which we all desire to return to. 
As hard as it is to see the things I described above, the joys always outweigh the sadness we see. At the end of the day the miracles always outweigh the challenges. Missions are hard. So hard. Harder than anything I have ever experienced because its hard emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. But never in my life have I experienced so much growth, felt so much joy, been filled with so much knowledge, met so many people, and loved as much as I do now. I only have about 4 months left.. And even knowing the hardships that come along with missionary work, I would do it again in a heartbeat. 
This week we had the blessing of teaching Sister Spencer and her daughter again a couple times :) They both came to church, and loved it! And they have accepted the invitation to be baptized. Truly Sister Spencer is a woman of faith and I love spending time with her! I learn so much each time we talk and love studying in preparation for our lessons. The Lord really loves her! 
Wendy is doing pretty well, the family is doing great as far as reading the scriptures and such are concerned :) Unfortunately her health hasn't been very good this week, but she is so strong and is always reminding us that this is just a way for her to come closer to the Savior, she is such an example to me! John came to an activity at the church for the men and he loved it! It was fun, we saw him at the church and he gave us a big hug and told us about how he had been telling all the men in the church about what angels we are and how much he loves all that we're teaching him. What a wonderful family they are! 

The Dixons are still absolutely wonderful :) Wow I love that family! I saw Emma at seminary this morning and she just made the best comments, and really taught me so much! 
We sang in church yesterday :) I loved it! It was so much fun :) But unfortunately I was dinking around on the piano trying to work on our parts and someone overheard.. so I have been roped into playing the piano for a baptism.. YIKES! Primary songs are so much harder than hymns.. and I can't even play hymns! haha So.. extra prayers would be much appreciated! I also was supposed to speak in church yesterday, but thankfully the Sister Hamilton show got broken up into two weeks. haha So I'll be speaking this week, which I'm actually super excited.. yup, I'm one of those freaks who loves public speaking. 
There was a stake activity for girls 10-11 and they asked us to come  and be with them. Can you say SO much fun!? I really loved it! We did hula-hoop. I got challenged to a cartwheel contest (in jeans) and of course lost.. haha. But It was just fun to talk to them about what its like to be a missionary and have them talk to us about their life. They are so fun! Still so young, but think they are so old :) We had two girls we/the elders are teaching there. and they loved it! They also came to church so that was exciting :) Helen, age 11, said "We will definitely be coming every week from now on" to which her grandma (a member who hasn't been in many years) smiled and said "Sister Hamilton she's telling the truth, I don't think we'll be going anywhere." 
Like I said, the joy always outweighs the setbacks. Always. Ours is a message of good news, it truly brings more light and life into our lives. It fills us with happiness indescribable. It is the way to have true peace. I know it is because I've tested it. I know there is happiness available for all, but I can promise that there is an increased measure of joy and happiness when our lives are centered on Jesus Christ and follow the principles of His gospel. 

Thank you for your love and prayers. I feel them, and I love you all so much!! 
Sister Hamilton

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Oh my! What a week/day it has been! 

Seriously, Sister Smith and I have seen some serious miracles! And I cannot wait to tell you all about them! I can already tell I'll probably be pretty long winded, so long as time will allow, so do me a favor.. Get up, stretch, go get a snack, then settle and stay awhile! And if you don't plan on reading the whole thing, please at least read the last paragraph, becuase I am going to ask you to help me with something. Deal? And the hilarious one liners.. because everyone needs a good laugh :) 

The weather has been teasing me all week.. its beautiful, like mid 70's with blue skys, then the next day POURING down rain. Sister Smith loves the rain.. Me.. not so much. I think the whole living through one of the wettest year on record in GA has had a bigger effect on me than I thought.. haha So I have to laugh when its sunny and I am in the best mood ever, and she is just sweating becuase it feels to hot to her. Poor thing will die this summer.. And then she laughs becuase as soon as I see its raining I have to give myself a peptalk, or 8, to go out and work. 

Sister Smith and I have been working so hard and are so blessed. Please don't misunderstand, I am not by anyway implying that us working hard has brought us all these miracles and lessons, on the contrary.. Each night we get home I feel completely overwhelmed at all the blessings we receive and I think, I better be even more tired tomorrow. Just hoping that perhaps I can show the Lord my gratitude through giving my all and working hard. I won't talk about our Zone Meeting with Elder Kopischke, but I will just say that it was wonderful :) 

I think the best way to organize this email is to share experiences per topic/individual so.. here I go! 

Lets start with, John and Wendy who are doing fantastic by the way! 
  • Wendy is still calling us each day with questions from the scriptures she has read/ the pamphlets we have left. 
  • Natalie, a recent convert, came with us to teach Wendy and they were instant best friends :) Natalie now calls us and asks us a question, we teach her, and then she calls Wendy to teach her. Its the coolest thing!
  • Wendy informed us at one of our lessons that she and John have been talking and they want the whole family to be baptized, they still haven't attended church but they said they feel the spirit so strongly.
  • "I just want to tell everyone to wake up and feel it! Its all the same truths but in more debth, I can't see why anyone wouldn't want this for their family." We all smiled and laughed and said "Wendy, believe me.. we feel the same way!" 
  • Their sons are attending Youth Night and really love it too :)
Sister Spencer:  
  • We are teaching a kind woman whose last name is Spencer, so we call her Sister Spencer and her 9yr old daughter. They are so sweet! 
  • Sis Spencer said she wouldn't agree to coming to church until she read part of the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. As we were there a couple of days later I wanted to jump for joy when I heard her say (to her daughter) "Hey darling these girls have a really great church with lots of girls your age. I think you'd really like it do you want to go?" I probably had a stupidly large smile on my face becuase she wasn't just inviting her daughter to church, she was telling me that she had read and felt the spirit. :)
  • Unfortunately she got really sick and couldn't come to church, but she said she feels peace whenever she read the Book of Mormon and she wants us to come today for a couple minutes so she can download it onto her tablet so she can show anyone she meets when she's at the drs. She's awesome :) 
Brother Wood:
  • We talked to Bro. Wood throughout the week and he was doing well. I had to laugh becuase Sister Smith called him by his first name on the phone and he said "Um.. that's Brother Wood to you." Haha I love that man! 
  • He was so sweet when we saw him, he tried so hard to talk with us but was having a hard time forming sentences. He told us how he loves that everything we teach talks about families, and he loves knowing he is a part of Christs family. 
  • He also talked about how he was worried about life after this and said, but then boom! you showed up, and now I know I'm in a big family, and I'm not worried. :)
  • Can you keep him in your prayers? Bro. Wood had a small stroke this week. So please just pray for his recovery.
We really just saw so many miracles and blessings. We had 7 members of the ward come out with us to lessons and such. That's a HUGE deal. And then in Relief Society they started a missionary minute and I was so excited to see about 5 hands jump into the air to share experiences they had that week. :) So amazing! 

I had the opportunity to spend a couple hours with one of the YW who came with me tracting and to an appointment. It was so cool that we were let into a home and were able to teach the first lesson. Katie who is just barely 16 rocked it! :) She had the biggest smile on and was so excited to be there, I'm so excited to work with more of the YW. 

The Dixons are doing amazing :) I cannot say enough good things about them. We had dinner at their house this week, breakfast for dinner :) And dare I say it.. I... uh.. I like grits! There I said it! I have officially had them enough to have aquired a taste and actually really liked them. Who am I? haha 

Alright, now for the funnies of the week :) 
  • The Jerls let us come over and they told us that their house was our house and we only needed to know two rules.. 1. Do not ask, just do it. and 2. Never take the last Dr. Pepper. haha I love that family!
  • Tracted into a funny guy who told me "Typical story, two women holding bibles come to tell me about Christ, although.. you are much prettier than I expected." I'm not sure whether to take that as a compliment or not.. Thanks for calling me pretty.. but No thanks for thinking missionaries can't be good looking.. sheesh! haha
  • Another man told us at the door "Lets be honest Sisters, I like my life of sin."
  • A woman told us before she shut the door "Happy fishing! If you know what I'm sayin'." haha 
Now my request for you all. With permission from Wendy I would like to ask you all to pray for her and her family, by name, each day this week. John and Wendy have two sons, Kadir and Kamran. Wendy wants so badly to make it to church but because of her lupus never knows how she is going to feel, she has great faith and believes if all of you are praying for her that God will grant her the strength to make it to Church soon. Please keep them in your prayers, I know that miracles can happen when we all join in prayer. 

Thank you for all you do! :) I love you!! And.. you know, if you wanted to write me.. I wouldn't complain :) Oh and mom! That postcard was honestly the best thing I have ever seen! :) 

Sister Hamilton

The picture is me with some of my favorite Johns Creek Sisters who provided the meal for our Zone Conference :) so fun!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"iPod? iPad? Try iPray. Heavenly Father is listening!"

Hello Everyone! 

My oh my! Once again I'm totally clueless of what to share with y'all. Truthfully what happened was I got online all ready to go, but then saw a couple of emails from BYU-Idaho about Student Teaching. And things are so completely different I don't even know where to begin to get it done.. and truthfully I don't want to think about it. So that's neat.. Its not fun when everyone always reminds you that your time as a missionary is running short. Did you know there are only 2 Sisters in the entire mission that have been out longer than myself and the Sisters that came in with me? Ya.. that's just wrong..

So about the week.. I'd say let me start with the highlights and then go on from there, but there are so many highlights that would take up forever to tell you about all of them.. so I'm sorry as I try to play "funny, funnier, funniest" and "good, better, best," :) 

Let me start with Saturday, by far the best day of the week. Closely followed by Sunday.Saturday we went out knocking doors in the morning trying to talk to as many people as we could before we left for our meeting with Elder Q. Cook. We met a nice old man and he said we could come back (story to be continued later..) I loved that he said "Wait Mormons! Ya I've heard about y'all.. everyone says y'all are weird." So of course I responded, "Well, if you let us back you can find out for yourself!" :) Sometimes I wonder how many times our Heavenly Father looks down at me, smiles, and says while shaking His head "Oh that Sister Hamilton, bless her heart." :) Surely.. its often.

Sister Dunn and I at Elder Cook
Our meeting with Elder Cook was AMAZING. I'm not sure I have ever had so many prayers answered in one setting. It was remarkable! I've been praying and studying for weeks and weeks to know how to help the members of our congregation want to/know how to be involved in missionary work. I just want to be more involved with working with them.. So when Elder Cook said "Tell the members that the success is in the invitation regardless of outcome." I felt like he was speaking directly to me. So, when Bishop turned some time over to me in ward counsel Sunday morning, I said exactly that. I was amazed at how strongly the Spirit came, and was touched that the Bishop came to me afterward and said "I've been wondering that for months.. how we know we're being successful. Teach this to the ward, and teach them what to invite others to do." Do you hear that? That's what I call even more of an answer to my prayers! By golly we are in business! Back to Elder Cook.. It was nice to be able to shake his hand and hear him joke a bit. But the most powerful part was when he shared his testimony with us and blessed us. Blessings I needed. I'm so thankful for the Apostles, I know they lead the church according to the will of God and when we follow them, we are extremely blessed. 

Elder Pieper accompanied Elder Cook, which was cool because I met him a few months ago while serving in the Coal Mountain Ward. I loved hearing him speak not only because he taught me to be a better teacher, but because of the love I felt as he spoke about his daughter. He said it was his first time addressing a group of missionaries since his daughter left on her mission in December. He basically got giddy as he talked about her and then said "Can I read you some of her letter?" He read her explaining the home and person she was teaching and then she said something which I absolutely loved so I'll share it with you. "Thank you black name tag for giving me license to have intimate experiences with complete strangers." I feel the exact same way! There is no other explanation for how quickly I love the people here.. That saying is just perfect. 

Saturday night I was able to attend the officially titled "Dixon Dunk" title coined by the one and only Sister Dixon! It was so amazing to be there to see the baptism. I love that family so much. They really are just wonderful! Abby remembered me telling her the story of Roc and Coco's baptism of Coco telling me in her broken English "I went down, I came up, I feel good" so as soon as she was dressed and the closing prayer was said she ran to me and said exactly that, then gave me the biggest hug I could ever ask for. I loved it! :) The Dixon family is just wonderful, and it as been one of the greatest blessings of my life to watch them gain a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Blair and I were talking after the baptism and I just want to echo something he said to me.. He said "This is why we are here.. I've been waiting my entire mission to help a family like this come into the gospel." To his words I'll add my own.. and I will be thankful for them for the rest of my life. 

Us driving to Elder Cook
On Sunday we got a text 30 min before church asking us to teach.. Here's the thing.. you don't tell a new missionary 30 minutes before to teach a lesson on something that's not a PMG lesson.. haha. So I ended up teaching Sunday School. And of course the day I teach our class is PACKED. like.. we had 30 people, we usually have 10? But I think it went well? haha one can only hope! Also, the Dixons were confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost, again words can't explain how amazing it was to be there for that! Then after church we took Amber, a young single adult in the ward, and went to see the man from the day before. You know, the one who said we were weird.. haha So we taught him and the lesson was really awesome! We taught the restoration and he kept saying things like "Woah.. this is all new.." "I'm a bit confused because its all new.. and its a little strange.. but I feel so good.. and I like it." Before we left I asked him if we could start calling him Brother Wood, sense we are all apart of God's family. He laughed and agreed. :) So if you could keep Brother Wood in your prayers that would be great! We are going back to teach him this week :) 

the Baptism :)
We taught Carrie again last night. She was proud to report that she had done her "homework." I'm not sure I like the fact that she is youtubing things about mormons as well as looking at mormon.org. She had quite the list of crazy things she'd heard, so that was fun. But, she did do something that was really sweet, she said "I read that Mormons like to share their testimony.. will you share yours with me?" I can honestly say that is the first time that someone who isn't a member has ASKED me to share my testimony.. I almost didn't know what to say! :) The lesson went well and we are going back to see her this week again as well.

Also, Wendy and John are doing great! We taught them this week and read 3Nephi11. We would stop every few verses and talk about things and what not and Wendy at one point said "Okay that's it.. I have GOT to start reading this book more often.. Do y'all feel it?!" It was so cute! And almost anytime she had a question John would say "Well hunny.. the sisters taught us that.. blah blah blah." And answer it for us! They're awesome :) We're hoping to start teaching the two sons this week and getting them involved in scouts and what not. 

Here's some funny/crazy things from the rest of the week:
  • I have pet more chickens in the past week than I  have in my entire life.. and I do say "pet".. like a dog.. I guess that's a thing? 
  • Someone we're teaching called us to ask us to help them cut their dogs fur.. I mean I guess I can be a pet groomer for service? haha
  • I went on exchange with Sister Moon, it was so fun! :) 
  • I literally started dancing and jumping I was so excited when I got out of dinner last night at 7:40 and it was still perfectly sunny. Spring is here.. Yay sunshine and later days! :)
  • Did you know Graney hospital (sp?) in Atlanta has 2 ORs.. 2 ER's.. etc.. Why? From times of segregation.. A member of the congregation is one of the hospital managers and he was telling us about it. so crazy! 
  • "iPod? iPad? Try iPray. Heavenly Father is listening!" -- A church sign I passed on the way to the stake center to email :)
  • Taught a young man on the street.. interesting fellow.. he had a question about the plan of salvation so we answered it :) As we talked about resurrection he said "Any chance I can come back good lookin'?" I just about died laughing! 
  • Sister Harris.. err.. Jordanne came out for the Dixon'

    s baptism, and it was SO fun to see her!! I miss that silly girl. 
So yup! Life is good!! :) I love you all and hope you're having a great week! I am so thankful to be here in Georgia. I love the people here more than words can ever express or describe. I know this is Gods work, and I am so thankful to be engaged it in on a full-time basis. He loves each and every one of us. No doubt about it! 

Sister Hamilton

Monday, March 3, 2014

Where am I? :)

Well Hey There!! 

Another fast and crazy week here in Georgia! Lots of things to talk about and lots of funny stories to share :) And a miracle or two of course :) But before I go on I  have a sticky note to make sure I don't forget to start by saying Happy Birthday to Paul and Patrick this week! And a big I'M SORRY to those who had birthdays and I didn't give you a shout out.. I hope my birthday cards got to ya at least :) Oh! And Happy Anniversary to Mom and Dad on the 5th and Heidi and Patrick on the 6th!! 

I've had a pretty good week, its been sunny for the most part, so that makes me so happy :) I woke up to rain this morning.. So I made Sister Smith sing "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today" during our studies this morning.. because by golly if its not sunny outside at least my soul can have sunshine.. haha :) 

Fun things to give you a heads up on is this week:
1. The Dixons are being baptized on Saturday :) Woot woot! Sister Dixon was talking to me about and I said "Well basically its going to be a party!" Of course in the most reverent way possible.. She got the biggest grin on her face and said "Sister Hamilton, I'm going to bring party hats for dinner!" HAHA I hope she does, how fun would that be! :)

2. We are having a visit from Elder Quinten L. Cook (from the quorum of the 12 apostles), Elder L. Whitney Clayton, and Elder Erich W. Kopischke! So we'll have a meeting with them on Saturday and next week we have a meeting with Elder Kopischke and Elder Giddeons. So lots of trainings and such. Maybe we'll find out we get our iPads? But I won't hold my breath haha Its all good, I love our "old fashioned" missionary work and wouldn't have it any other way! :) 

As far as the rest of the week goes its been awesome. There have been some things said/experienced that I think are best described as "straight up nuts!" and there have also been tender mercies and many blessings. Overall, there are so many reasons to smile and be happy! :)
  • We had dinner with a sweet family and the 6 year old girl reminded me so much of Sammy! She LOVES pink and sat across from me at dinner with her head proped up in her hands saying things like "I bet its fun to be a missionary!" " Do you think I can be a missionary?" "What's it like being a missionary?" "I want to be a missionary like you some day!" It was the sweetest thing ever! I also loved that she said "Want to borrow my Frozen soundtrack?" Eh..? Huh? Disney has a new hit? Who knew! Not this chick! haha She was sad when I told her I couldn't listen to it, but decided that it would be okay if she sang me a few songs. haha so cute! 
  • A sweet man told us while tracting "I think its so great what y'all do each day. Your parents must be very proud." Its a blessing to meet kind people who give you words of encouragement! 
  • We knocked on a womans door and she was really nice and gave us an etremely nice tip.. "Don't knock on the door across the street.. He'll run you off with his shotgun, and I'd hate to see you have to run in those cute skirts." HAHAHA Where am I?! Mom, don't worry. I didn't go across the street. 
  • As I was walking up this house I noticed that the brick steps were a little worn.. and falling apart.. That should have stopped me from going forward but so many homes in GA are like that so I ignored it and walked up while still chatting with Sister Smith. Right before I took a step onto the porch I looked down.. Not down on the wood deck.. down, down, down, and could see weeds and grass.. Turns out there were 3 planks missing in front of the door that had fallen through.. And luckily I didn't fall down and join them! Although it would have probably caused me to laugh even harder! haha Again.. where am i? 
  • We saw another front door that had a cute porch, but the stairs were randomly in the yard and didn't actually connect to the porch. haha (most front doors are on the second story) So the family I guess goes through the garage? Where am I? :) 
  • We are still teaching Wendy and John, they are doing really well :) Both read part of the Book of Mormon and really like what they are reading and some men from the ward came by and gave them priesthood blessings for Wendy's health. They were both so appreciative and said they felt the spirit so strong. Its such a blessing to be working with them :) 
Okay, last thing I want to share is a story from yesterday. Sister Smith and I try to talk to 70 new people each week and we needed 8 more. I told Sister Smith before we got out of the car to do our second hour of tracting that we were going to find a new person to teach before dinner. As we were walking back to do the other side of a street there was a house with a very steep driveway, honestly I did not want to walk up it. I thought to myself "the house looks empty anyway.." trying to justify moving past it. As Sister Smith said "Well that's one way to deter people from coming to your door" I knew we had to knock on the door and up we went! A woman came to the door and told us she was currently reading a book about Mormons put out by her church (UH-OH!), but that she wasn't sure how true it could be because it wasn't put out by our church (Phew!). I encouraged her to ask us one or two questions of things she read that she didn't believe could be true. I was amazed that she did!

We were able to teach her a lot and she asked us to come back! Such a miracle! But it gets better :) We also learned that Sister missionaries were teaching her mom and that her mom told her she wanted to be baptized into the church, but unfortunately passed away from cancer before she could be baptized. I completely believe in Angels, and I know that her mom was helping us to find her daughter that day. I so look forward to seeing Carrie this coming week and hope she looks at Mormon.org to answer more of her questions. Please keep her in your prayers :)

Thanks for all that you do! I love you all!! 
Sister Hamilton

P.S. Write me :)
here are some pictures from last week :)