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, 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.


~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 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


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