Sister Hamilton has been called to serve for a period of 18 months in the California Arcadia Mission. She will be serving in Spanish.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Baptism Blue!

~ Sent Dec.15th T..... and Hna. N. are abreviations ~ 

Hola everyone!

I have so much to write about, but today was transfers so I have seriously no time and a killer head ache.

Hna B. has left me to head of to El Monte where she will actually be companions with one of my friends from the CCM. My new companion is actually the trainer of my CCM companion which is way fun. Her name is Hna N.  and she is so fun. I'm really excited to work with her. 

We're kind of going to be figuring everything out together though. When I first came into the mission I was in the area 'Covina roam' which meant we covered all of the Ward of Covina which includes three cities. When we were in a trio we were covering 'Covina roam' and 'Covina south', which meant we had twice as many people to visit which was awesome and super busy. This transfer I have officially been reassigned to 'Covina south', and while I've been working in this area a bit, I don't actually know it or the investigators here very well. Thus we are going to be figuring this out together. I think it'll be fun and cool to kind of start out fresh. There aren't enough Hermanas now for all of the areas they were covering before so the 'Covina roam' was closed down. I'm still in the same Ward which is super nice, but I still get the experience of a new area which is also super nice. 

Because of the area change I'll be staying in this apartment instead of going back to live with the English sisters. It was really hard to tell them we weren't moving back in with them because we love them so much and we had a lot of fun together. But it's all good because this Saturday is the mission Christmas party so we'll all see each other soon anyway. 


Okay enough of that. Now for the cool stuff. This week my mind has just been blown by how awesome it is to serve a mission. Don't get me wrong, it's the hardest thing I have ever done. But it's also easily the best thing I've ever done. I get to help people make real changes in their lives. For some reason God blessed me with the humbling opportunity to bring these people hope and help them leave behind their worries and mistakes.

This week we had our very first baptism. T..... has been such an example to me and in every lesson I felt like she was teaching us. She was so prepared for this gospel. When we told her that in a year she could go to the temple and make more covenants with her Heavenly Father she started crying out of happiness. She bore her testimony after she was baptized and it was so powerful. We are going to start working with her family and I couldn't be more excited. President Villanueva and his family came to the baptism and he wants to come on a lesson us this week, so we're excited for that too.

I love you all so much! I'll try to write better next week!
Hermana Hamilton


Buenos días!

~ Sent Dec. 8th ~

¡Buenos días!

I wish I had more time to write, but today we learned how to make papusas! They are delicious and I can't wait to make them when I come home (don't worry Torie, I promise I'll teach you).

Yet another update on the companion situation. This past Friday we dropped Hna R. at the airport so she can go home for a few months to figure out a few health issues. It broke my heart to watch her go. We had less than 24 hours notice that she was leaving. Being in a trio was seriously the most fun I've had on my mission and I learned so much about how to be a good missionary. I am so thankful for the experiences I was able to have with both her and Hna B. For now Hna B. and I are covering 2 areas at once. We have two phones, two area books, and a lot of people to visit. It's wonderful because we are never in short supply of work. It's hard because we have to prioritize and we can't make it to everyone. Next week however, is transfers and no one really knows what is going to happen. There are a million possibilities, but we'll just have to wait and see.

We also had a big service project this week. 56 missionaries volunteered to help staff a Christmas parade! It was so much fun. We worked crowd control and got to watch the parade! It was a lot of fun and very cool to see the whole community come out and celebrate. 


It's starting to feel like the Christmas season. Its weird because I'm still wearing short sleeves and it doesn't feel like winter, but I feel like this season people are becoming more generous and that is what makes it feel like Christmas. I really think we will see miracles this month. 

One miracle is coming next week! Our investigator T.... will be baptized this Sunday the 14. We had the great blessing to go with her to the temple visitors center this past week. She is so incredibly prepared to become a member of this gospel. When we first invited her to be baptized we invited her to make it her goal and she replied 'that may be your goal for me, but my goal is to go to the temple and be sealed!' How golden can you get?! She is the sweetest and most charitable person I have ever met and I am so excited for her. I can't wait to let you all know how it goes.


I have a firm testimony that God really does prepare people to receive this gospel. He sends us to find those who are in need of the atonement and who are ready to accept it. There is no pain it can not heal and no wrong it cannot correct. If you have some time read Alma 7:11-13 and just ponder on his sacrifice. Something we've been having people do is think about all that our savior has given them and to then think of what they can give him this Christmas. It can be anything from promising to be kind to your sibling to committing to quit a bad habit.

I love you all and hope you're all having a great day!
Hermana Hamilton

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hola!

~Sent on Dec. 1st~


Hola!

Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had dinner with our Ward mission leader
and his family. The food was amazing and they had pecan pie which is
my absolute favorite so I was happy. We spent most of our time
listening to different members of the family tell stories from their
missions. It was really interesting to hear their experiences. After
dinner we went and visited a few elderly investigators we are working
with. We had a really powerful lesson with them where a formerly
atheist man expressed that he is beginning to have faith in God. It
was also really nice to visit them on a holiday when they couldn't be
with their families.

On Saturday we did service at a wedding reception at the church. It
was beautiful. The whole ceiling was draped in white fabric and white
lights. It was super hard to be able to hear music and not be able to
dance. I have to say Latino weddings are a lot of fun and super
lively. We spent the evening in the kitchen washing dishes, but they
gave us food and cake and we got to watch their first dance so it was
a pretty awesome evening.

On Sunday we, as a district, taught the third hour of church. We
taught about how to use the Internet for missionary work and
introduced the 'Él Es La Dádiva' initiative (He Is The Gift  for all
yall English speakers). The church is spreading this message of Christ
through all different kinds of media. There is a billboard in time
square, a video on YouTube, the hashtag "SharetheGift", and on Dec 7
the main ad bar on YouTube will be about this message. The video is so
beautiful. We've already shared it with so many people and I can't
wait to show everyone. I highly recommend it. Just go check out
christmas.mormon.org

I'm running out of time, but I love you all. Have a wonderful week!
Hermana Hamilton

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

~ Sent Nov. 24th~

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

So it's not for a few days, but I want to say a few things I'm grateful for now.  

I am grateful for all of the service opportunities we had this week. We did three different projects. The first we went and translated at an elementary school for parent teacher conferences. I think i goes without saying that I was completely terrified. It went pretty well though. I didn't end up being used much just because so many of the teachers spoke Spanish, but we did a lot of good. The second was our Ward Relief Society had collected socks and wrapped them for Christmas to give out at a local nursing home. We went with them to hand them out and sing a few hymns. It was a lot of fun and we met this sweet tiny little old lady named Maria who was completely overwhelmed with joy that we had come to visit. The hymns were a little painful because our Ward is 100% tone deaf, but it was tons of fun and I don't think any of the residents cared at all (probably only half could hear us anyway). 

The last service activity was with CDA Cares through JustServe. JustServe is a new church run program completely centered on service. It partners with tons of other churches and organizations to help organize volunteers and services. Right now it's in its beginning stages, I'm not sure when it will be fully launched to the whole church, but it's going to be a big deal. There will be a representative called in each stake to help find opportunities and encourage the members to volunteer. Our whole zone went to this project. For two days we volunteered at a dental clinic that provides all kinds of dental care completely free of charge. There are no requirements you just have to be willing to wait. I worked as a translator for some of the time. That was kind of rough because how the heck would I know any dental terms? But I managed and everything worked out so no worries. Most of the time I worked in sterilization. It was totally crazy. We cleaned, packaged, sterilized, sorted and distributed probably a million dental tools. We were working as fast and as hard as we could for about 6 hours straight. Plus I have no previous knowledge so I had to learn very quickly which tools were which, if they were surgical or basic and who to give them to. It felt so good to work so hard though and see such cool results. Lots of families came in that desperately needed help. There were many people who hadn't had teeth for years and when they left they had smiles they could be proud of. It was amazing to see so many people come together and make such a huge difference in just two days.




I'm also very grateful for my companionship. I am always learning so much from Hna B. and Hna R. They really take care of me and I know I can count on them for anything.

I am grateful for the early saints and all that they went through so we could have the restored gospel. At our Ward thanksgiving dinner we watched the joseph smith video no it made me think about how grateful I am for their sacrifices. My life has been so blessed by this gospel and now I have the great honor of helping others have those same blessings.

I am grateful for prayer. I can kneel down at anytime and ask the creator of the universe in all of its complexities and mysteries anything I want. I can turn to him whe I am scared, when I feel worthless, or when I simply want to talk. And he listens. To all of my petty problems and insignificant worries. And he answers. He gives me the tools and encouragement I need to keep going. He continually lets me know that he is there and he is providing a way.

I am grateful for my Savior. I am such an imperfect being, but through him I can leave behind my mistakes and try again. It's hard to have the humility to recognize my imperfections and buck up and make changes, but he is holding my hand all of the way and he never judges me for my mistakes. We are each loved with a perfect love, free of disappointment, judgement or shame. We are loved and embraced with a hope and faith that we will become better.

I am grateful for all of you and for your support and  love. I know that maybe not all of you understand my decision to serve a mission, but you have supported me anyway and that has made such a difference in my life. I love you all so much.

Wishing you all a happy holiday,
Hermana Hamilton

Crazy Week

~Sent Nov 18th~

Hola Familia y Amigos!

Remember how last week I said neither Hna B. nor I were moving? Lies.This week has been completely crazy and next looks just as nuts. But first there were some cool things I forgot to mention last time. So you'll have to wait for our moving story.

We are teaching this one lady who is wonderful and so kind to us. She was actually a referral from a member. The first time we met her she greeted us like old friends and they ld us with tears in her eyes that she wanted to badly to come to church. Last week at church (I think her third time coming) the other ladies in relief society asked her if she was investigating the church and she answered "no, this is my church now. I'm like you, I'm staying here with you guys." I almost cried I was so happy. Then one night we were visiting her and Hna B. mentioned that she feels really cold at night. Next thing we know this sweet woman is handing us these huge brand new thick cozy blankets and insisting that we take them. Hna B.'s has Pandas and mine had Tigers. I love this woman so much and she is so ready for this gospel. She is one of the most saintly people I have ever met. She is an apartment manage and she Seriously does everything she can to help those who live there. If only all landlords were that caring. 


Okay so now for the moving story. We got a call at 4 on Friday that we had to be packed and ready to move by 9 the next morning. What had happened was one of the Hnas in our district had to go home to have surgery, but that left her companion in need of a companion. Because we are the roamers of the ward and technically already cover her area President decided to make us a trio. We were actually kind of expecting that, but we were expecting her to move in with us in our big and spacious apartment, but instead they had us move into the studio apartment. Now the English sisters are all alone in a huge two room apartment with a washer and dryer all to themselves. It's fun living in a new place though. It's keeping things interesting. 

Our moving also means we have a car now because Hermana Rodreguiez, our new companion, can't ride a bike and we are covering both our areas at once. Right now we're actually driving a minivan because the little car is getting fixes. I don't know how long we'll have the van, but it makes us feel like soccer moms which is funny and different.

On Saturday night our stake youth put on a road show. They acted out different sections of the Book of Mormon. It was really good and tons of fun. Our Ward performed the story of Ammon and they totally got the crowd going. I'm a touch biased, but they were the best. We had a bunch of investigators come and they really liked it too. 

On Monday, the reason this email is late, we had a mission tour conference. Elder Sitati who is a member of the quorum of seventy came and spoke to us. It was great. He and his wife taught about how to have a divine companionship and teach by the spirit. Really every interaction we have in our companionship determines if we have the spirit with us. If we have any bad feelings towards each other there is no way we are going to be able to help those we teach feel the spirit and love of God. Contention drives any hope of having the spirit away.

I am so grateful for this gospel. It is so much more than believing in God. It's a higher way of live. A way of living that puts you in harmony with the will of God. We can have peace and comfort and guidance instead of fear and worry when we encounter difficult circumstances.

Love you all so much!
Hermana Hamilton



Just i case you can't tell what this picture is its Ammon and the other shepherds herding the sheep who were hilariously played by the primary children and kept wandering round the stage. Gotta love'em.

Hola!

~Sent Nov. 10th~

Hey Everyone!

Probably just a short one this week. 

Transfer calls were this week. Hna Bennion and I are both staying as expected, but she'll probably leave next transfer. One of our apartmentmates was transferred which was hard because we're all pretty close, but luckily she's just an area or two over and we'll probably run into her plenty. 

Last night was the Despedida for all of the leaving missionaries. It's like a big devotional where the departing missionaries share their testimonies. It was really cool. The whole thing was in Spanish, English and Chinese. It's really awesome living and working in an area with so many different kinds of people. It really reminds you that the gospel is for everyone. The devotional really made me feel excited and enthusiastic to be a missionary. I think when I first got here I let some of my fears keep me from feeling that, but now I want to head into this transfer with that excitement and dedication. 

The cool thing about a mission is you learn how to learn. I always considered myself a good student and someone who really likes learning, but I don't think I really understood what it means to be a constant life student, to be constantly seeking to improve. It's hard because pretty much nothing comes quickly and it's hard to have faith that the little changes you are making will amount to anything, but diligence and faith really go along way. We are out here helping people move forward, but they are helping us do the same. It's a refining process. At times it hurts, but it works wonders.

Love you all! 
Hermana Hamilton

Gear up, this one's a long one!

~Hna stands for Hermana or, in English, sister.  Hna B.is Maddy's companion ~


Hey everyone!

This week was seriously awesome. I'm just going to have to go through it day by day so I don't miss anything.

Monday: For Pday our zone had a great activity where we carved pumpkins and ate more treats than I am willing to confess to you, but I think I wrote about that last letter home so I'll move on. Later at the end of the night we were biking home and Hna B. really needed batteries for her bike light so we decided to call our Ward mission leader and see if we could stop by and pick some up from him on our way home. We get to their house and they give us their batteries and they immediately start offering us food and trying to give us dinner. We were laughing and saying 'really, we're okay. We just needed some batteries. We have to be home in ten minutes.' They would not take no for an answer. They hopped in their car, went and bought us In'N'Out while we were biking home and then delivered it to us at our apartment. Not only did they buy full meals for us, but also for the three English sisters who live with us! It was the craziest unexpected blessing. All we had gone to them for was three triple a batteries and we walked away with three giant bags of In'N'Out. They are seriously so good to us. Their family gives us a ride to church every Sunday and I feel like we can depend on them for anything. 

Tuesday/Wednesday: Tuesday night we started exchanges so at around 8 on Tuesday the Sister Trainer, Hna C., came to stay the night here and Hna B. went to their area. That meant that I would be leading the area all day Wednesday until they switched back the next night. This was the first time I was with out my trainer and I was kind of I change because I know the area and the investigators. All Tuesday I was super stressed about it. It was actually a really great experience. Because I was forced to do some much more of the talking than normal I gained a little more confidence in my abilities and now I feel a lot more comfortable taking control in lessons and just speaking with people in Spanish in general. It was also really good to just experience a different teaching style and learn from each other. Plus it was fun to get to know someone knew because I really didn't know Hna C. very much. For the most part it went really smoothly. I only had one little incident. 

Okay, so it was actually a pretty bad one, but at least now it'll never happen again. Hna C. bikes slower than me. I was biking in front because I was the one who knew where we were going so I had to keep checking back and slowing down to make sure we were staying close enough together. So at one point we're biking to an appointment and I'm all stressed out about making it on time, but also going slow at the same time. I see this shadow of another person on a bike behind me so I think 'great, I don't have to keep looking behind me'. (I know what you're thinking, no, it was not my own shadow). So I keep my eyes on the shadow and they're keeping up with me so I keep going a little faster and a little faster and I'm just thinking 'this is great, we're totally going to make it on time'. So eventually I slow down and turn back to tell her we're turning and I see some big strange man on a bike looking back at me. I stopped dead, completely shocked. We just sped on past me and I look around to find that I can't see Hna C. anywhere. Immediately I'm thinking that I am the worst missionary ever. I've ditched my companion, I've just spent the last five minutes with some strange man and I didn't even know it, and now I'm all alone with out my companion. I really didn't have anything I could do other than hop on the sidewalk and start biking the other way until her and I crossed paths. Luckily she wasn't actually super far behind me still just peddling along and she could still see me pretty much the whole time. She was really chill about the whole thing which was really good because I was freaking out and feeling like a complete and total idiot. Lesson learned.

Thursday: that night was the Ward Halloween party. The missionaries were asked to come up with a few games for the kids to play so Hna B. and I set up the game where there are donuts hanging off of strings and you have to lie down on the floor and try to eat the donut. It was a huge hit. The kids loved it and a few of the adults played it, competing against each other including one of our investigators. He lives with his cousin and her husband who are members and they are all really fun. The husband is a lot like my dad in that he's really witty and constantly cracking jokes. They got a big kick out of the whole party. Our Ward isn't very big so I was glad that the people who came had such a good time. Hna B. and I dressed up as best we could. As missionaries we can't really wear costumes so what we did is we wore matching outfits and swapped name tags. We also wore mustaches for a little while just for kicks. We had a lot of fun, but we probably looked totally insane on the bus ride over there. 

Friday: Halloween! At like 3 in the afternoon we were out on our bikes and ran into a teenage guy biking the other way in a full on purple telletubbies costume. We started laughing so hard and I said I wonder what bet he lost?so for Halloween our mission president told us that we should try and make appointments for that night and avoid being out in the streets. If we didn't have appointments and we felt like our area was dangerous we were supposed to come home early and do our best to be productive in the apartment. We decided the best thing for us to do was spend time at a members home. We actually went over to the home of the family was just talking about who came to the Halloween party. We ate dinner with them and then we were able to teach our investigator a lesson. It was funny because the Hna served us these bowls of really delicious soup and some rolls. It was so good and were perfectly content with that being our whole meal. We thought we were done but oh no, then she brought out these plates heaped with chicken and ¡huge! servings of mashed potatoes. Then to top it all off she  brought us a big salad too. We're supposed to eat everything they give us, but I swear Latinos must think we are bottomless pits because they always give us small mountains for dinner. I just looked at my companion and said 'if I put one more bite of potatoes in my mouth I will be sick.' So she took one for the team and ate all of her food as at least one of us finished the meal. Despite our fullness we still went home and made some Halloween cookies before going to bed because we had to do something to celebrate.


Saturday: We had the funniest experience on a lesson. We were teaching the woman I mentioned last week who had a really amazing experience in the Gospel Principles class. We were in the middle of teaching her about the restoration and she goes 'I have a question' and we always want people to ask questions so we're like 'of course, please ask. She asks "in your church do you pay tithing?" And immediately we start thinking 'oh no, she's not going to want to learn anymore because she doesn't want to give up her money.' But we're not going to lie or avoid the question so we said yes, we pay tithing, but it's voluntary and discrete, just between you and the bishop. And she goes "oh good! I didn't see a collecting plate on Sunday and I wanted to pay my tithing. In the bible it says pay for tithing and I know I get blessings from tithing. I was so worried you didn't pay tithing. I want to pay my tithing." So not what most people say. Afterwards we had a good laugh about it, but at the time we explained it a little more and then moved on with our lesson. But wait, it got better the next day

Sunday: we're sitting in Gospel Principles and we look behind us to see her holding the Gospel Principles book, her Book of Mormon, all the pamphlets we've given her, and a tithing slip! We started giggling right there in class. The night before we had explained to her that you have to be baptized before you can pay tithing, but apparently she wasn't letting such a little detail get in her way. When we had invited her to be baptized the night before she had said "come no!?" which sort of just means "of course!" My companion and I seriously feel like she's one of those little kids at baptisms who are trying to climb into the font and we are just like 'Wait! We have to teach you first!' She is the most golden investigator I had ever seen which is perfect because she has a friend who's been working with the other Sister missionaries in our Ward for a while and she's been pretty hesitant. We're hoping her enthusiasm will help her friend progress as well. 

These weeks email has been kind of full of temporal things so I want to just end with a spiritual thought. We used a Mormon Messages video this week that really touched me. It's called Men's Hearts Shall Fail Them and it all about how in this day and age people have to deal with very difficult trials, but through a knowledge of our Savior and the Atonement we are able to find comfort and strength. So many people are carrying around the burdens of sadness, regret, guilt, feelings of being lost or lonely and they don't have to be carrying those with them. We can turn to our Savior and put our trials into God's hands. Christ suffered and experienced everything we have ever or will ever go through. He understands us perfectly. When we turn to him we don't have to face the troubles of this life alone and we can continue to progress towards lasting happiness. If you can you should watch the video, think about   what ever burdens you may be feeling at the moment and seek to find comfort from the atonement.

I love and miss you all so much,
Hermana Hamilton 




Monday, November 24, 2014

Doughnuts

In true Hamilton fashion, Madison beasted the doughnut eating competition at the ward Halloween party.







Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Halloween!




Hey everyone!

I am so excited for Halloween. Right now I'm at a zone activity and
we're carving pumpkins and eating treats. My companion and I made
little witches hats, I'll attach a picture. We have a really great
zone. For actual Halloween I think we'll be spending the evening at a
members home.




















This week we had some really cool experiences. We had 4 investigators
come to church this Sunday, 3 of whom had never been before. One woman
in particular had an amazing experience. The Gospel Principles lesson
was on Eternal Marriage and it touched her heart. She said that she
always thought there was something wrong with the 'till death do you
part' line in marriage vows and she wants to be sealed to her family.
She said she was going to take the gospel principles book home and
read it and that she couldn't wait to come back to church. She is such
a sweet woman. The funny thing is she looks kind of like a Latina
version of my grandmother and she loves to garden just like her too.

We also had a really powerful lesson with a part member family. The
husband is actually an RM, but he's pretty inactive. We decided to ask
him to teach the lesson. We asked if he would feel able to teach us
the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was all for it, he
got so excited and did an incredible job. At one point he had tears in
his eyes as he was bearing his testimony and I think it really effect
his wife who is an investigator. I'm so excited to work with them.

While we were at their house they fed us dinner. It was fish. With a
face. I'll attach a picture. It was actually really good with lemon on
it. I have eaten so many things in this short time that I never would
have eaten before and I have yet to have a bad experience.

I have to get going, but I hope you all have a great week and a
wonderful Halloween. Stay safe!

Love, Hermana Hamilton


Hermana Hamilton and the Week of Three Flat Tires

This week's email comes late because yesterday there was New
Missionary Orientation so our pday was moved until today. The meeting
was great. We had bunch of little lessons taught by the APs, the
mission president and his wife (the Villanuevas) I especially liked
getting to know the Villanuevas a little better. They are so kind and
really excited to be here. They are from Mexico and apparently they
were expecting to be assigned to a Latin American mission. When they
realized only 40% of our mission is Spanish speaking I guess it was
quite a shock for them. I think it's kind of a blessing though because
it makes me feel like they really understand us. They are struggling
with a new language just like we are.

There are actually seven languages in the mission. Something pretty
cool is the Chinese speaking missionaries are about to make a Chinese
stake. It'll either be the first one in the world or at least one of
the first, I not sure, but either way that is super exciting. I hope
we can see such great things happen in the Spanish stake.

So as for the title of this email. We had three flat tires this week,
all different tires and all different days. On the upside my companion
and I are both pretty good at patching flat tires now. Hopefully we
won't have this keep happening. It was really frustrating this past
week because it kept us from meeting with people and teaching lessons.
I have to admit this past week was pretty hard and we had a lot of set
backs, but I have a lot of hope for this next week. We did find a new
investigator we're pretty excited about so hopefully we will see
miracles with her.

This week has really been about faith for me. Faith that Heavenly
Father listening and that everything will work out in the end. Some
many times I felt like I was at the end of all I could handle and then
something would work out like being able to catch a bus we shouldn't
have been able to or finally finding a referral who wants to learn
more after hours of not being able to find anyone. I especially think
it's important to have faith that something wonderful is going to
happen and remember you just have to keep moving forward.

I'm really thankful for the Book of Mormon. I've been trying to read a
little from it every night before bed in addition to the studies we do
in the morning. It's incredible how something written so long ago by a
bunch of men can apply so clearly to the problems I'm dealing with. I
can take courage in what I read and let go of the things that haven't
gone how I would have liked to.

If you get the chance you should go see Meet the Mormons while its in
theaters. I will admit the narrator is a touch cheesy, but the stories
are really powerful. We had a special zone meeting where we were able
to watch it. It was a great experience and pretty inspiring as a
missionary to see how the gospel is for everyone. The last story they
share really touched me.

I hope you are all happy and heathy and having a great day!
Hermana Hamilton

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

She's in Cali!!

Madison returned to the states today and will, presumably, receive her first assignment this week!
Her mission seems to want to route all mail through the mission office. While this is slower, it should be more convenient for the rest of us. You can send things to 614 W. Foothill Blvd. Arcadia, CA 91006 for her whole mission and they will get to her within a week. Be sure to use her whole name!
Anyway, here's pics:







Monday, September 29, 2014

Picture Time!

Well after a couple of weeks with no pictures, Maddy sent a sneaky Monday email with more than enough to make up for it. -Torie


Us Hermanas with our teacher Hermano Melara. He was the perfect teacher for my district.

Me and this random head that is on campus. I have no idea who it is supposed to be. We pretend its the head of Laban. It has become a tradition that you have to pat his head for good luck whenever you pass him. 



A bunch of little chocolates that us Hermanas bought at the tienda and then decorated for each person in our district. On the back is a little moroni sticker. It was cute. 

The TALL program that we use on the computers to learn Spanish. I completed all of the activities and I am pretty dang proud of it.


My eyes are shut, but here is my district
 Another one of us and our teacher



 sketch pic of a pic in a video presentation





just random



Another district picture, this time with our other teacher Hermano Galicia


And then one that I hope makes you laugh.

Crazy Story

So I was standing on line for dinner and we start chatting with the elder behind us. He says he´s from Mxxxxx and I mention I have family from Mxxxxx. He asks who they are just on the off chance that he knows them, but what are the odds because there are tons of mormons in Mxxxxx. I say LeBaron and he says no way what are their first names? I start listing names and he says those are my cousins. I was shocked because those are MY cousins. Turns out we´re related. In fact he lives on LeBaron Lane or Road or whatever it is called and his house is the one with the pool that I have swam in several times before. I have swam in his pool! Totally crazy. 


Nearing the End of the CCM

Hola!

So I leave Tuesday early in the morning. It simultaneously feels like I just got here and like I have been here for ever. Most of my district will be flying to California together and then splitting there between the Redlands Mission and the Arcadia Mission. I got travel information this morning and I´m going to start packing today. It feels surreal. 

I feel like I have gained so much here. Every sunday before a district from our zone leaves we have a testimony meeting as a zone where the leaving district shares their testimonies and advice about the CCM. Every time at least a few people talked about how that wish they had put more into the CCM while they had had the chance and that while they did have amazing experiences they wish they had been more diligent. I am so thankful that I don´t feel like that. Of course I wasn´t perfect and 100% focused all of the time, but I tried really hard to do all that I could. I feel like my life has already been changed so much and I am so overwhelmingly grateful for the time I have had here and the people that I have met. I am going to miss my teachers a lot. I have learned so much from them. I will miss my district a lot too. We have shared so many cool experiences together and it will be hard to say goodbye. 

This past Sunday we had another one of those meetings for the district in our zone that my district was closest to. I had to say goodbye to some wonderful Hermanas that were wonderful examples to me and really helped me to feel loved when I first got here and was feeling like I didn´t particularly fit in. I think it is cool how they could be placed in my life for such a short amount of time, but have impacted it so greatly. I hope others can say the same about me. 

Something fun that happened this week was all of us Hermanas in the district sat with some Latina Hermanas during dinner. it was simultaneously very humbling and encouraging. The Hermanas were very kind and we quizzed each other on words in Spanish and English. It was hard to keep up with them and I had to ask them to repeat, but that fact that I could understand anything at all was exciting. 

Another fun thing was on Friday there was a super clear full double rainbow over Mexico City. I´m not sure i´ve ever seen a full rainbow before let alone a double one. The rest of the sky was pink and purple and it was possibly one of the most beautiful things I´ve ever seen. It wasn´t  Pday so I didn´t have my camera, but I wish everyone could have seen it.

This morning the CCM was visited by Elder David F Evans, the executive director of the mission department, and Elser Stephen B Allen, the managing director of the mission department. We had a devotional where they spoke and it was so good. Some of the elders were annoyed because today is our Pday and we had to give up two hours of our personal time to go to the devotional, but afterwards I felt like there was no better way I could have spent my time. The entire devotional made me so excited to be heading out to the field. I have such a blessed opportunity to help people change their lives for the better. There are so many people who feel alone, who feel like they aren´t loved or even worse like they aren´t worthy of love. I am so humbled to think that God has called me to go and help them and be their friend. During the meeting I felt so strongly that this is exactly where I need to be and what I need to be doing. They were honest and talked about how missionary work is hard and how every missionary, even missionaries who have gone on to become prophets, experiences serious discouragement , but they also talked about how it is worth it. 

I honestly feel like going on a mission has been the best decision of my life. I am so grateful to be here and I am changed so greatly by being here. I feel strengthened in ways I didn´t even know I was weak. The work is definitely hastening. I know that the age change was a divinely led decision that will result in a stronger youth in the church and consequently stronger families. Families are the basis of everything and it will be those strengthened families that will be able to chance the world for the better.

On Sunday our Relief Society meeting was based on a talk by Thomas S. Monson. Coincidentally I had been studying that talk already during my personal study. That is twice what i have been studying has matched perfectly with what our RS lesson was. The talk is called Love- The Essence of the Gospel and he gave it this past General Conference. I encourage you to read it. One line that really stuck with me this week was that every person has the power to increase the sum total of the worlds happiness. It sounds cheesy, but it´s true. Every little act of service I did this week and every little act of service I received increased the sum total of the worlds happiness. 

I´m out of email time, but I want you all to know that I love you very deeply and I am thankful for your influence in my life. I am so thankful for this gospel, the healing power i have felt in my life and the opportunity to help others feel it too.

Love,
Hermana Hamilton

Also, if you have the time look up His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox. It´s a great talk. 

One Month Down

Isn´t that completely loco? I can´t believe I only have 17 months left. I haven´t even left the CCM yet and I already feel like i want more time. We only have 12 days left here. I´m really going to miss our district and teachers. I hope that our district stays in contact.

So I had two major accomplishments this week. The first was spending a whole day (well at least until dinner) speaking only spanish and the second was teaching a real investigator. 

So for the day of solo español it started out as just us Hermanas and then we invited some Elders to join and they jumped on the wagon and then some how or another it ended up that most of district decided to give it a shot. It was really hard, i´m sure my conjugations were off half the time and i used my dictionary a lot, but it was really cool. It forced me to work out how to express myself in Spanish and more often than not I was able to actually do it. I´m sure in the mission field it will be so much harder because everyone will speak much fast and use more words that I don´t know, but it was definitely encouraging. 

Teaching a real investigator was awesome. Before hand our whole district was really nervous, but now it feels good to have made that first step. Some of the companionships taught investigators through Skype, but Hermana Hansen and I were lucky enough to be set up with an investigator who could actually be here at the CCM. Our investigator was from here in mexico city, he´s working and going to school and he has a three month old baby. We taught him about how God is his loving heavenly father and how to pray. It was a simple lesson, but we could really feel the spirit. I was able to give him a copy of the Book of Mormon in spanish that I had bought at BYU before coming here. I´m really glad I had brought it. After we had left he told our teacher that he was very grateful for the book, that he had felt the spirit and that  he was going to try and pray with his family. I don´t think we´ll ever find out what will happen with him, but I hope other missionaries can continue to teach him and his family. 

Mexican Independence Day was also this week. It was way fun. I wore a red skirt and a Mexican looking blouse because I cant resist a holiday. I was worried I would come off as tacky but a bunch of Latinos complimented me which made me feel great. One employee came up to me and thanked me for the love I showed his country. One of my teachers said I could have passed as a Mexican from Chihuahua. Don´t know how true that is, but it was fun to hear. All the week before they had had tons of mexican candies at lunch and dinner. I have discovered that I actually like some tamarindo candies. it´s a weird taste, but i like it. Then on the night of the 15th we have a celebration where we had a ringing of the bell ceremony and they brought in a dance troop to perform traditional Mexican dances. It was so awesome. Not going to lie, I´m kind of jealous, it´s too bad that the US doesn´t have cool traditional dances like that. I guess maybe I could learn to square dance, but pioneer apparel doesn´t have a thing on those traditional Mexican dresses with the huge swirly skirts. When we were walking back to our casa we were able to see some of the fireworks people were setting off around Mexico City. It was really cool. I hope someday I can come back and experience the holiday outside of the wall of the CCM. 

As a spiritual thought I just wanted to share some things from a devotional we had broadcast from the Provo MTC. It was by Elder Scott and it was actually an address that he had given some time before and we had watched a recording of about two weeks earlier. Some people were really annoyed that we were hearing the same thing twice, but i figured if we were hearing it twice there was a good reason. Plus, there were some differences between the two and i had fun comparing my notes and seeing what he had changed. The whole talk was on prayer. One of the things that stuck with me was the idea that God is the creator of endless worlds, he has unimaginable power and we have the privilage of being able to talk directly to him. My prayers have totally changed since coming to the CCM. I had never really prayed on my knees before, but now I do it several times a day and I don´t know why, but there is something special about praying on your knees. I know that he hears me prayers and that he provides me with answers. He also said there is no need to fear repentance. I thought that was cool because I think that is definitely something people are fearful of. But in reality it can lead to the greatest joy we have ever felt. We can stop carrying with us thoughts and feelings that weigh down our hearts. We can start over and know that the Lord is on our side.

I love you all!

Hermana Hamilton