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, 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


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.

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 3 Pictures

This appears to be a giant picture book of the Book of Mormon

Handmade shirt she intends to wear for Mexican Independence day 

Three weeks down and three to go!

Hola familia y amigos!

It´s crazy to think I am already over half way down with the CCM. I also got to leave the CCM for the first time today which was really fun and a much needed change of pace.

This morning my district was part of the group that got to go visit the Mexico City Temple Visitors Center. The temple is closed for renovation right now (super bummed about that) so we couldnt go inside. it wont be open till next july. But the visitors center was really cool and the sister missionaries there that led our tour were really nice and cool to talk to. It was weird going through one of those kinds of tours as a fellow missionary. One of my favorite parts of the visitors center was the childrens room. They have this great big picture book that looked like the gold plates and it had different stories from the book of mormon in it. There was also a touch screen coloring book activity that i got a kick out of. There was also an exhibit about the history of the church in mexico that was interesting (well at least the parts I could translate for myself were).

I hope later on in life I can come back here and actually experience Mexico City. It was fascinating driving through it and seeing all of the homes and businesses squashed up alongside each other. I´d love to try the street vendor food and see what it´s actually like outside of the walls of the CCM. 

All week we´ve been working on learning the Mexican Nathional Anthem in preparation for  Mexican Independence Day coming up this week. Apparently there is going to be some kind of celebration on campus and they´re going to bring in really good authentic mexican food. I´m not really sure what to expect, but i´m excited for it. I feel bad, some of the people in our Zone are leaving for the field that morning so they´re going to miss the whole thing. I´m glad I get to be here for the holiday (even though the city is going to be so loud that night and there is no way we´re going to be able to get any sleep).

This past sunday was pretty cool because it was a fast sunday. I was able to get up and share my testimony completely in Spanish without any notes. It was one of those moments where I was just struck by how much i´ve learned in such a short time. I´m learning things in spanish that it took me three years to learn in french. I´m not saying I speak it well at all, but it blows my mind how quickly you can pick it up if you´re surrounded by it all the time.

Random funny story. This week we had a sub for a day because one Hermano Galicia was traveling. The subs name was Hermano Palma, but Hermano Melara says some of the other teachers call him Palmita because he´s so short and tiny. While we was teaching there was a big gust of wind through the window that knocked down a poster board from on top of the white board and nearly hit his head. Then less than a second later another poster board, this one with the Objectivo on it, fell on him as he was trying to pick up the other board. when he picked up the objectivo it was broken in half. When we told Hermano Melara what happened he didn´t believe us at first because some of our elders can be really roudy so he thought we did. 

My district has actually been becoming a lot more diligent during study time. This week we listened to a devotional from Elder Holland. It was one of the most motivating talks I have ever heard. It was just sort of about how awesome thing calling is and how this will be one of the greatest experiences of our lives and how it will fuel us in all of our experiences to come. Afterward we had the most amazing district discussion we´ve ever had. The spirit was so strong and everyone was filled with this determination to be a better missionary and to be a better person. It´s amazing to be united with so many people in self improvement. 

I thought I have pretty strong faith and a good testimony before I got here, but I have grown so much since coming here. Maybe it´s because I am constantly in need of so much help from the Lord to speak the language and to know how to meet the needs of others. Maybe its because I am blessed with the opportunity to study the gospel constantly. Maybe its because i´ve been introduced to so many wonderful examples and given so many resources to help me. What ever it is I am so thankful for it and I hope I can keep changing for the better. 

Earlier this week I put a happy scripture up on the board when everyone else was out of the classroom (except my companion of course). Hermano Melara ended up looking it up, liking it, and using it in his lesson. A few days later I found another one and put that one up too. I think I´ll do that when ever I find a happy verse. ("over nine hundred happy tests!" Polyanna reference anyone?) So the two from this week were 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and 2 Nephi 5:27.

I don´t have too much time, but I want to share one last experience. One day this week I was having a really hard time. I just felt really worthless and kinda ugly and not really capable of anything. I said a prayer and just said "i don´t know what i need, but I know i need something. please help me." later that day I was able to have the best study time I have had yet and then next morning I was able to have the best Relief Society meeting I have had yet. My study and the lesson (and actually another lesson later in the day too) were on the same topic. Chrsitlike Attributes. Theres a whole chapter about it in Preach My Gospel. The whole experience just testified to me that all I have to worry about is knowing my Savior and trying to be like him. At the core that it all missionary work it. That´s all trying to live a righteous life is. It also let me know that God was listening to me. 

Love you all!

Hermana Hamilton

Also if you have some time look up and watch "Only a Stone Cutter". It was one of the videos we watched this past sunday and it´s really powerful.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hola Familia y Amigos!

Hola! Buenos Dias!

This week has totally flown by. We are constantly super busy with our language study and classes. This week we started teaching two new investigators, Edgar and Mauricio (who are really our teachers, Hermano Melara and Hermano Galicia). It´s amazing how much more I can say in Spanish now in comparison to what I could say during our lessons last week. My grammar is still a disaster and my verb tenses are all over the map, but I feel like I can express myself better. I´ve also been translating the messages that the Spanish Speakers from the Yorktown ward wrote in my journal, which has been a lot of fun and super cool. I´m excited to hopefully be able to hold actually conversations with them completely in Spanish when I get back. It´s a lofty goal, but I think it´s a good one.

On Sunday I was able to give a five minute talk completely in Spanish all about the blessings of the Temple. I think it was actually a really great learning tool. I had  Elder Neser ( one of our Zone Leaders and pretty much the best Spanish speaker in the zone) proof read my talk and he didn´t even make that many changes which made me feel pretty good about how much I´ve learned. 

On Sunday we also watched a really great devotional that Elder Scott gave last year where he said "remember the Lord has called you to succeed not to fail". I just thought it was a really great message because we´ve all been feeling frustrated with learning the language and a bit overwhelmed by how much we are asked to do, but this is the Lord´s work and with his help we will be able to speak the language and help the people. 

Sometimes we have district devotionals and every night we have a prayer and spiritual thought as a zone. I love those meetings because they feel so sincere and just for us. There are no teachers, no manuals, no expectations, just a bunch of ragtag young people sharing how they feel and what they believe. It´s a cool experience.I also really love singing all of the hymns in Spanish. At the end of every zone meeting, all of the Hermanas hug each other goodnight and say "Buenos Noches". It´s one of my favorite parts of the day especially since Hermana Johnson, of one of the other districts, gives super tight hugs like Torie and it just makes me so happy.

This week we started practicing contacting and we had to do it with the latino missionaries that are here. I thought it was fun to try and talk with them. It was hard because they talk so fast and I know so little, but we were able to communicate and ever crack jokes. Some of them asked for a picture with use (probably so they has a picture with some gringas) so now there is a photo some where out there of Hermana Hansen and I and a bunch of Latino missionaries. 

I´m running out of email time, but I´m so excited for this up coming week. They´ve already started decorating for Mexican Independence day and I just think holidays are awesome. It´ll probably suck a little bit though, because Mexico City is already so loud and it´s only going to get louder. I doubt we´ll be able to get any sleep. I´ll try to write more next week. (an hour email time is NOT enough time at all!)

I hope everyone had a great week! Love you and miss you loads.

Hermana Hamilton

This is the sign I made for the classroom. 
We needed some district Spirit

My companion and I by a budding palm tree. We think they´re awesome. She always says "look there´s a pineapple popping out of the ground!"

We labeled our dorm so we could learn house hold words. We labeled the little cabinet with the ironing table as a cabinet because we didn´t know how to say it, but the cleaning workers wrote it out for us while we were gone. I thought it was super funny