Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. Alma 26:12

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dec 22...I can't wait to see Salguiero flourish

Dear Family,

Good news! I made it to Araripina in one piece with all of my luggage :)! It's crazy to be back here again! It feels like it was only yesterday that I was coming here with Elder Constantino for District meetings! But its definitely changed. First of all, its a zone now. When I would come here at the begining of my mission we were part of the zone Juazeiro but President just split it into Juazeiro and Araripina. I got super lucky! :). 

Our zone has 12 Elders (For now), one of which was transfered here a couple days after me that was Assistant to the President and now he's serving with a real calling as Branch President in Trinidade! CRAZY! He's a super good Elder and I know he's gonna do a ton to change that area. Unfortunately, I wont be able to go to Salgueiro until next year (a few weeks). But I'm super excited. Unfortunately, the 4 missionaries that are there right now are having.... Issues. So I'm gonna do a suprise visit and stay there for a week or so. I'll go back one week out of every month for as long as needed to whip them back into shape. I can't wait to see Salgueiro flourish :). 

This week should be super cool. The 24th we´re all gonna go and sing in the public square and the 25th.... SKYPE!!! Oh ya! Mommy and Papa, don't put you phones on silence tomorrow ;). Love you guys!!! P.s. My new companion, Elder Munson is the one standing behind the two older people (The lady with the red shirt) in the gray suit.



Dec 15...Going back to Salguiero - my first area

Dear Family,

This week I'm feeling super blessed. I am seriously feeling the love of my Lord. Looking back on my mission until now, its super easy to see his presence. Everything that I've really desired, he's given me. When I got to the CTM, all I wanted was a trainer that could speak English and help me adjust. So, He gave me Elder Constantino and an awesome area (Salgueiro). I always wanted to be a hard working missionary, willing to do everything and anything for my God. So, He gave me 2 great examples of what not to do.. After my 2 great examples, I really wanted an American companion, annnnnnd I got Elder Page! We had a great time together and worked many miracles (Alma 26:12..) My scripture on my missionary plaque!! :)), But now its time to move on to my next blessing. Tomorrow, I'll be leaving Pacajus. After almost 7 months and a ton of learning. Fortunately, Elder Hershberger (My awesome friend that was called as assistant a couple weeks back) called me on Thursday (We usually only get 1 days heads up) to let me know. So I've already gotten to say goodbye to everyone and were gonna have a party at FHE tonight :). So ya, my next blessing... I'M GOING BACK TO SALGUEIRO!!! Wellll... more or less haha. I'll be ZL in Araripina and Salgueiro is in my zone!!!! Its super cool! I've already been to the house there and gotten to know the area a bit when I did a division there my third week of my mission! So ya, there isnt one ward in my entire zone. All groups and branches. My next companions name is Elder Munson and hes American too! I can already feel my Portugese getting worse... Ive never met him before, buuuuut I hope hes good haha.
--
Elder Hamstead

(Tried to upload pics but my cam is being dumb. Put a couple on Box.com)

LOVE YOU ALL!!

DEC 1...Anything but Normal

Dear family,

Well this last week was difficult... So Monday was Pday as normal. Tuesday we had district meeting like normal and I went on splits like normal. Wednesday we worked (Like normal). And then Thursday arrived and from then on, it was anything but normal. 

So Thursday morning (Thanksgiving!) I woke up feeling pretty bad. I grabbed my thermometer annnnnd I had a fever of ~100. Fun! I called Sister Fusco around 8AM and she said to take some Tylenol and to rest. I took some Tylenol and took a freezing shower and about an hour later, my fever had basically broken. We hung out inside and slept basiccaly the entire day. Sister Fusco said that we could go out at night if I was feeling better, so we started getting ready and in that instant, I started feeling sick again. I layed down for a little bit but didnt feel any better. In fact, I was feeling worse and worse. I grabbed my thermometer again and my fever had returned with vengance... 103.6. Not good. I went and got under the freezing shower water while my companion called Sister Fusco. She said that we had to go to a hospital in Fortaleza right then. I called Andrea and told her what was going on and her and her husband rushed over to our house, sped us to the hospital and waited there with us until I finished. I am SUPER greatful to have them in my area! So ya, they ran a bunch of blood tests and it turned out to be a little virus (A different one than the last time). They gave me a prescription and we were out of there. I woke up the next day completely fine. Unfortunately, President said that we had to stay inside again. Andrea brought us lunch and a bunch of coconuts (which I havent drunken yet, but dont tell her!) and then basically the rest of the day we just sat around. For the rest of the week the work was slow, but I'm hoping and praying that this week will be better. We have training and interviews with President Fusco in my chapel on Thursday and I'll be able to see one of my good friends, Elder Hershberger, who was just called as Assistant to the President! Im so excited!!!


As always, Eu sei que tudo que nos ensinamos é verdadeira. Eu sei que Jesus Cristo realmente foi enviado pra terra para nos salvar. Ele nos ama. Ele sofreu tudo e morreu por nos.  Eu amo ele e vou fazer tudo o que eu consigo fazer para servir a ele. (As always , I know that everything we teach us is true. I know that Jesus Christ was actually sent to earth to save us. He loves us. He suffered and died for us all. I love it and I will do everything I can do to serve him)

João 3:16

Love you guys!!
--
Elder Hamstead

Pres. and Sis. Fusco

NOV 24...It seemed like the entire week was going against us

Dear family,

This last week was probably (definitely) the busiest / hardest / most stressed week of my entire mission. So Tuesday morning I recieved my new district (Horizonte and Pacajus 2B) and gave training. Its kinda funny, Im DL of my second trainer now (The one that didn't really like me that much). So ya... Back to the point. This week we worked so hard (Maybe a bit too much... Sick again :/). But once Sunday arrived, it was SOOOOOOO worth it! We baptized the family of Jerry in the morning, and then after church, we baptized Alan, Leticia, and Wendel and then that night we had the baptism of Bianca.  It seemed like the entire week everything was going against us. Our biggest struggle is that now we have to take care of the Recent converts and less actives in my area AND Elder Gardners area (Which was closed last week and became part of ours). We're gonna have to stop baptizing to handel the load (At least until president sends another companionship).
Sorry for the short letter. Feeling sick. Gonna go home and get some rest :/


LOVE YOU GUYS!!!
--
Elder Hamstead

NOV 17...Coincidences don't exist. He is always leading us

Dear Family,
This last week has been crazy. The area of the other missionaries that I lived with was closed this week. It's so weird to have a house to ourselves... So ya, Elder Gardner became a Zone Leader and Elder Alvorado became financial secretary. I'm super happy for them, but I already miss them a ton :\... They are great missionaries. Unfortunately, when they left, their area became part of our area... Our area basically doubled in size and now we have more than 35 recent converts all baptized within the last 4ish months to take care of. We're gonna be working our butts off haha. 

So last night we got the transfer news annnnnnnnnnndddddddddddd no one was transfered. Later that night though, while I was accompanying the district, one of my Elders told me that Elder Queiroz (an elder in my district) was called as district leader... I was so confused. No one had told me anything. No one had told me that I wasnt DL anymore. So I called the Zone Leaders and asked them what was going on. They had no idea and just told me that we are both DLs but really didnt know what was going on. So this morning when we arrived in Fortaleza (My companion and I had been invited to attened a Zone leaders meeting with President.. I saw Elder Constantino!! Hes gonna train another American and open ANOTHER area.. I'm so jealous! :) ) I asked President what was going on annnnnnnnnnnddddddd.... He had no idea haha. He called his assistants into his office and a couple minutes later, they came out with the response.. Pacajus is gonna be divided. I'm not sure how it's gonna work out. The other DL lives in the house with the rest of my district and now there's no one else in my house. I think its more likely that I won't stay DL for too much longer. Which is really sad to me. It's a stressful position sometimes, but I really love it! Either way, I know that we're all being led by God and that God doesn't make mistakes. Coincidences don't exist. He is always leading us, and only when we follow will we really be happy.  :)

P.s. Mom - Please buy papa a nice pair of thick leather gloves. I wanna come home to a 10 fingered dad :)

-- 

Elder Hamstead
Photos... Last day all together. Baptims of Vitoria and Lunch with my Elders (Gardner and Alvorado)

Friday, November 14, 2014

I'm so used to it being me...

Dear Family,

(Sorry for the short letter!)

This week was a bit different. My companion got sick! So weird. I'm so used to it being me. Unfortunately, his stomach isn't responding very well to the new environment and we couldn't leave the house for 3 days. Fortunately, my awesome elders (especially Elder Gardner), were there to help. So I was able to keep working in my area for a majority of the week. 

So I'd just like to bear my testamony to you guys that I know that ALL of us have a purpose in life. That the only way to realize this purpose is by way of our decisions. While we're here on the earth, there are always two very visable forces fighting for us. There's God, who loves us and wants nothing but the best for us and there's Satan, who only wants us to feel the same pain he feels everyday. Every decision we make in life is hugely important. Every deision we make brings us closer to one side or the other. I now that when we make good, God inspired decisions, we can really be happy in life and more importantly, afterwards.

LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

-- 
Elder Hamstead

P.s. Just a little over a month until SKYPE!!! :)

Our new working method (11/3/2014)

Dear Family,

Elder Constantino, Me and Elder Page (at the training last week)! The entire Family!! :)
This last week was really cool. Elder Page and I are really pushing ourselves and, with the help of the Lord, we're hitting goals that I would have thought impossible just a little over a month ago! This week, we lost a day of work to go to a leadership training in Fortaleza (The first one in over a year!). It was so cool! Our entire method of work is about to change hugely. Last Monday, all of the mission presidents (Maybe just Brasil... Not sure) had a conference with the First Presidency/Apostolos and they received our new working method. So before, we basically always just knocked doors to find news. Now we~re only allowed to do that as a backup. So everything is based on less actives (Which we have a ton of in our ward). We~re gonna visit literally every single one of them and reactivate them by way of teaching about Temples, Eternal Families, and Family History. Im really super excited. The Apostolos promised that any mission that really fully implements this will have exponential growth. So ya, I'm gonna be pushing my district pretty hard to change them really quickly. 

Baptisms of Ricardo and Manuel
I'm absolutely loving my district! I was super nervous at first but my Elders are willing to do literally whatever it takes to serve the Lord and he's pouring his blessing upon us. When I arrived in Pacajus almost 5 months ago, it was one of the worst zones of the mission. Now its the most successful and my district is the highest baptizing district in the entire mission. I know that when we obey the Lord and his commandments, we really have no reason to fear. He will bless us in ANY struggle or doubt that we have. He loves us and wants nothing but the best for us. Sometimes we get nervous. But this is not of God (2 Tim 1:7). When we are really doing what is right, when we are living ALL of Gods commandments, we have no need of fear. Just imagine what you would give to make your children happy. Now, remember, our father is the most powerful being ever to exist and he loves us PERFECTLY.

My Zone (from like 2 months ago)
  
If ye then being EVIL know how to give good gifts unto your children how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask? (Mat 7:11)

God loves you. Pray to him and beg him for what you need. Don't be afraid.

P.s.  LOVE YOU GUYS!!
-- 
Elder Hamstead

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Eu tava sentindo muito saudade de politico haha..

Dear Family,

This last week has been great! Elder Page is awesome! Hes learning the language super quickly and he loves to work (Fortunately! Dragging around companions is something I NEVER want to do again). 

So, Mommy, to answer your questions, as DL I normaly do interviews every weekend. Also, becoming district leader doesn't normally affect your time in an area. I've seen missionaries stay in the same area for 7 months as DL and I've seen missionaries that only stay for one transfer. Being a trainer on the other hand probably means that I have at least one more transfer here after this one (training is 2 transfers and President usually likes to have one trainer per missionary). But who knows, I could literally be transfered whenever (Hopefully not any time soon, Im loving it here :) ).

I'm glad to hear that David is having such a great time playing Baseball - Can't wait to get back and play with ya , little bro! Oh ya! I got my package last week (Just not the one with socks)! 

Sorry for not writing about it last week, I wasn't exactly myself while emailing last week. I had been feeling sick that morning so President sent me to the Hospital... Again.. They gave me some shots and I felt better, so we returned to my area. We went straight to the LAN house and I started feeling sick again. So we went back home and I took a nap. A couple hours later, I woke up feeling better again but I had a strong feeling that I shouldn't go out for the rest of the day. I stayed at the house with Elder Gardner and sent Elder Page and Elder Alvorado to go to family home evening. Just like 20ish minutes after I started getting super cold. We took my temperature and called Sister Fusco. I had a fever of 103... Not fun.. Fortunately, Elder Gardner forced me (I really didn't want to haha) to take a freezing shower for 20 minutes and my fever broke. The next day, it was back to the hospital in Fortaleza but this time, Sister Fusco told us that we couldnt leave until the Doctors actually knew exactly what was wrong with me. All the other times, they were all basically just guessing and giving me medicines to fight the symptoms. After 7-8 hours and a million blood tests, they finally found my problem. So now I'm taking super powerful medicine and I shouldn't have anymore problems like this for the rest of my mission!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!! 

So ya, this last week was great. On Sunday, we had the baptism of Vítoria (Niece of Jaqueline)! It was so cool! The first time that Elder Page actually got in the water! He was so nervous, but he did a great job. Yesterday was also the second vote (If one doesn't have 50 percent or more, they vote again) for President. We had dinner with the Andreias family and they were just going crazy! Eu tava sentindo muito saudade de politico haha.. (I was feeling very homesick for politics)

Anyways, the mission is going great!! LOVE YOU GUYS!!

-- 
Elder Hamstead


Monday, October 20, 2014

I don't know why I haven't been doing this my entire mission

Dear family,

This last week was great! We started out last Monday doing a family home evening in Jaqueline's house. It was so cool! I don't know why I haven't been doing this my entire mission. We watched Joseph Smith the Prophet of the Restoration and had a bunch of cake and popcorn! Were doing another one tonight. 


This week, we really pushed hard with one of our investigators that weve been teaching for almost 2 months. Francisco has had a super difficult life and had problems with drugs and alchool (like a lot of problems). When we started teaching him, he didn't believe in God or anything that we taught him. This last week we returned every day and gave him a date for Sunday. He accepted, and after a couple really spiritual experiences, he was baptized! I feel like everytime I baptize someone, they enter the water nervous and leave it without any regret, with one of the greatest feelings they've ever felt. I love being able to see the gospel change lives! It's probably the best testimony builder that exists! I know that I am here as a representative of Christ. I know that he has the power to change the life of anyone. 


On Sunday, our ward secretary asked Elder Page (my new comp) to give a talk in sacrament (I seriously think he's crazy... Elder P only has a bit more than a week here and doesn't really know how to speak yet...). So I told the secretary that I would speak. I really love the opportunity. I spoke on missionary work and every member a mssionary. I don't think I have ever seen my ward so quiet (Wards here are a lot different than in the US.. People don't see it as a problem to talk or do whatever they want during sacrament meeting.. It's really sad) than it was when I was speaking. I'm expecting it to be a lot easier to get the help of the members now haha. 

Love you guys so much!! Only like 2 more months until SKYPE!!!

LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!

-- 
Elder Hamstead

Unfortunately, we didn't find anyone to baptize.... Forutnately, the Lord did (Oct 13)

Dear family, 

Sooooo I started out this week SUPER nervous!! Starting as a trainer and district leader... I didn't feel prepared. Fortunately, my companion, Elder Page, is AWESOME! He doesn't speak much yet, but he's already understanding really well. He loves working annnnnnnd he's from the motherland! Utah! Haha... 


So this week, we only had 3 days of work in my area... Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I really wanted to have a baptism on Elder Pages first Sunday.. Unfortunately, we didn't find anyone to baptize.... Forutnately, the Lord did ;). On Sunday, one of the families we're teaching arrived in sacrament and one of their sons was completely filled with the desire to be baptized. At first, his parents didn't let him, but just a few minutes after, the spirit touched their hearts and they wanted him to be baptized too!!!! Such a cool experience. 


So this week, I also started my duties as district leader (Mom - 8 missionaries), which includes doing interviews. The first time I was nervous, but it turns out that interviewing is literally the most spiritual thing that ive probably ever done! I felt the Spirit so strongly in my last one (of 7).. I can't say too much about it, but I can say this: I know this church is true. I know that Jesus lives and that He gave his life for me and for you. I know that if I was the only person to ever live, Jesus would still give his life, just to save me. I know that he loves me and that he loves you. I've literally felt him in my life and I know that he's here with us right now. I know that he would do anything to help us. I know that is why he calls prophets / gave us the Book of Mormon and Bible. I know that he wants us to be happy in our lives. I know that he wants us to return. Not so that we can live with him again, but so that he can live with us. We love him because he loved us first.

(Sorry for the short letter)

LOVE YOU GUYS!!!
-- 
Elder Hamstead

Monday, October 6, 2014

It was a bit squished, but fortunately, we still had enough room for the Spirit

This past week has been completely insane. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to go to Fortaleza for a mission conference (Which was SUPER COOL)! We got spiritually fed for basically the entire day (8am-7pm). I love going to any meeting that President Fusco speaks in. I always feel so energized and happy afterwards. Unfortunately, by the time I got back to my house we didn't have time to work. Fortunately, I've still got a bunch of time left :). 

On Wednesday, I went on a division with the other Elders that live in my house. I got to explore their area with Elder Alvorado (Hes a Honduran (From Honduras)  being trained by Elder Gardner and has 1 transfer in the mission). It was so cool and such a good experience. Even though he only has one transfer, I feel like I was able to learn a lot with him.

Thursday was a really good day. We had a lot of lessons, novos and... I finally reached the end of my self imposed junk food/soda diet. Wahooooo! I can finally drink soda again haha. Not really excited about being able to eat junk food haha. I think I'll just continue avoiding it haha. 

Friday was completely insane. We passed by literally all of our investigators to confirm conference with them. 

Saturday was.... Interesting. We arrived at the chapel a bit early only to find that the satelite was having problems and that at least the first session would be a no go. We called a bunch of investigators, informing them of the problem. We tried to find a member to watch with, but unfortunately, this weekend Brasil had elections and in Brasil, you can only vote where you were born (Unless you file some papers and switch voting places.. Which basically nobody does here..). So ya.. Basically all the members were gone and we missed the first session. During the time that would have been ^between sessions^, We had the baptism of Jaqueline! Shes super cool and has a great testamony! Unfortunately, the problem with the satalite persisted during the Saturday night session too.. You have no idea how frustrated I was. Fortunately, the missionaries in Pacajus 2 (the other ward) found a member that we could watch with. It was a bit squished, but fortunately, we still had enough room for the Spirit. That session was soooooooo goooooood! Sunday morning we were scrambeling to find a member that we could watch with. We didnt find anyone.. But fortunately, like half an hour into it, we recieved the call that the satelite was functioning again. We ran to the chaple and caught the last hour. Sunday night was the only session without problems haha. Im downloading them all right now haha. 

Sunday was also transfer day.. My companion, Elder Aron, was the only one in our house to be transfered. And this morning I woke up as Lider de Distrito Treinador (District Leader Trainer).... I cant explain how nervous I am or how unprepared I feel. Fortunately, I know that the Lord will qualify me. I know it won't be painless, but I know he'll be with me every step of the way. On Thursday, I'll go to Fortaleza to pick up my new companion (American! I hope my Portugese is good enough to teach him......). Until then, I'm staying with the District Leader of Horizonte. 

I have pictures to send but I forgot my card reader... Sorry!!!

LOVE YOU GUYS!!

-- 
Elder Hamstead

P.s. Dont be upset if I didn't respond to your email.. Didn't have enough time :/

Friday, October 3, 2014

It was a breath of fresh air!

Dear family,

This week was really... Interesting. P-day was basically the only normal day haha. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I left my area on divisions for the second time on my mission. Wahooo! I was with Elder J. Martinez. He's really cool and just about to finish his second transfer on the mission. He's from Colombia and speaks Spanish. At first I was nervous that he wouldn't speak very well and that I wouldn't understand anything he said, but after just a few short minutes with him, I knew there wouldn't be any problem. It's crazy how quickly native Spanish speakers learn Portugese! After almost 5 months in my area, going to an area that I had never been in before was like a breath of fresh air. It's crazy how quickly you get bored of the same scenery everyday as a missionary haha. 

Thursday was super cool. Last week, our stake had a caravan to the temple (Recife) basically everyone went... Including the Seminary teacher. And as you can probably guess, she asked us to teach for her. Seminary here is every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 6:30-7:30pm. Sooo everyone in our house took a day. Thursday was mine. At first I was a bit nervous (arriving half an hour late didn't help.. We were given the wrong time) but as soon as I entered the classroom, I was literally filled with the Spirit. It was such a great experience. I feel like I really connected with them. We went a bit over, but no one complained. The spirit was there and it was strong. 

Thursday night, our zone leaders called and said that they wanted to do a division with us. So Friday morning, I left my area again. I got on the bus and about an hour later, we arrived in Pedras (Area of the Zone leaders). It was my second time in their area, but again, it was a breath of fresh air. 

We returned on Saturday just in time for the baptism of Camilla. She is 18 years old and her life hasn't exactly been easy. I'll write more about her next week. All in all this week was a blessing for me. Filled with miracles and the Spirit. I know that what we're doing here and what missionaries are doing all over the world is the work of God. He isn't calling just a few. He is literally calling every single one of his children to repentance. We all need to change. If we and becoming better or at least trying every day, we can't pretend to be real followers of Christ. He came to the world to save us from sin. He already paid for every single one of them. Now is our part. We have to decide whether we will accept this huge gift that hes given to us. 

Eu sei que Jesus é nosso Salvador. Só por meio dele, nos podemos voltar para a presença do pai. 



Love you guys!!

Elder Hamstead

*we looked up the translation of Christopher's message above:
I know that Jesus is our Savior. Only through him, we can go back to his father's presence.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dinner!




Every time I feel bad, I think of the prophet Job (9/15)

So last week I returned to the hospital 2 times. The first because I got sick again and the second to get the results of my blood tests (Which werent finished yet... They said one day, but in actuallity, a majority will take about a week). We~re going back again this week (Could you possibly put some money onto my card? Eating in Fortaleza is really expensive (at least for a missionary that spends most of his money on medicine haha)). I think that we havent had a transfer because of my poopy health... I'm not sure why my body is behaving so badly lately, but every time I feel bad, I think of the Prophet Job and remember that I really don,t have it too bad. I love my mission and President / Sister Fusco they take really good care of me. You don't ever need to worry about me while they're around. If you have any questions or worries or anything, email me. Not President Fusco. Love you!! :)




I'm talking to you Mom...9/8

Car ride to Hospital



Dear family,

This last week was great. Or at least most of it was haha. Last monday I got sick, (nothing serious! Im talking to you mom ;)) and wasnt allowed to work that day or tuesday. Everyone thought that I had Dengue (except me) so on Wednesday I went to the hospital (Sao Mateus - Its SUPER nice. Im talking to you mommy ;)) with Elder Hack, one of my Zone Leaders. Well, after some quick blood tests, the results were in. I didn't have anything wrong with me. It was just a little stomach infection (caused by something I ate or drank) that has already gone away. So ya, Im back to full health again and you dont need to worry about me in the slightest (Im talking to you mom ;)). 

Even with those 3 days out of my area, I still had time to see miracles. The biggest of which happened with Silvia. Irma Silvia has lots of problems with the word of wisdom. One of which is smoking. About 2ish weeks ago, we made goals with her to lessen and eventually stop all of her addictions. When we came to cigarets (no idea how to spell that), she told us that she would need at least one per day. I felt that she could do better. When I left her house that day, I left with all of her cigarets  She hasnt smoked since!! She told us that she doesnt even feel the desire anymore. Its crazy, if people had just a little trust in the Lord and what hes able to do in our lives, this world would have a lot less problems.

-- 
Elder Hamstead

Pics of baptism and car ride to the hospital 

A very present pattern (9/1)

Dear Family,

The past few weeks have been really cool. Our new bishop decided that we need to spend more time teaching inactive members. Sooo for the last couple weeks, weve been doing exactly that! Our ward has a ton of inactive members (almost 300) and we're trying to meet as many as we can. Unfortunately, there's a very present pattern. Most of the inactives never had a chance to really gain a testimony. And just like the Nephites, who were once a pleasant people, that became part of the Lamanites, they became "more wild". These inactives normally are completely against the church and everything it stands for. It's really weird. Fortunately, some of them had the opportunity to really learn for themselves that the church is true.

A couple weeks ago, I met a sister named Silvia. She was one of the first baptisms in Pacajus and fell away from the church about 10 years ago. She expressed to us her love for the Lord and shared her testimony with us. She seemed perfect and we couldn't understand why she wasnt going to church. So we asked. She said that she doesn't feel comfortable there and doesn't have many friends. We taught her about repentance and discovered that shes got a bunch of problems that she's dealing with. We taught her the word of wisdom and then taught her about the Sabbath day and about the sacrament and why we all need it. She still has a couple of things that she's working on changing, but I doubt that she'll still have problems with them in a month.


Sorry for the rushed letter! didnt have tons of time. Love you all!

-- 
Elder Hamstead

It's impossible to read without gaining a testimony...(8/18)


This past week was really interesting. Our Zone started doing a weekly fast last week and the results were almost instant. Our district had 9 baptisms! The most our Zone has ever had in a month was 21. We've already passed that number. Its so cool to be able to be here helping people on their way to recieving salvation. This week, something really interesting and completely new happened to me. So for the last couple weeks, I've been teaching a less active woman named Silvia. She was one of the first baptisms in Pacajus almost 20 years ago and she was super active until about 10 years ago. She's super cool and has more faith (and knowledge) than almost anyone else that I've talked to here. Good news is that shes returning to church now :). Ok, I'm getting off the subject haha. The really interesting and new thing happened while we were teaching her neice, Maira. So Maira is a super smart 13 year old and speaks a ton of English. The third time we arrived at her house, she asked us something that no one has ever asked me before.. If she could "Evangelize" to us.. It was a bit weird but we accepted just for the heck of it. Turns out that her "evangelizing" was actually reading garbage from the internet that "proved" our religion wrong. Anyone that really knows me knows that I'm the kind of person that would love to take every point and destroy it (which would have been very easy for us). Fortunately, my companion is a bit smater than me haha. He told me to be quiet and wait. When she finished reading off all of her points, we bore our testamonies to her and challenged her to start reading the Book of Mormon (because its impossible to read it without gaining a testimony). We're returning on Tuesday. Wish me luck!! haha. 

Love you guys!!!






When it starts getting hard and you want to give up, push harder! (8/11)



Glad to hear that everyone is doing well. Im doing well too :). I'm pretty sure that its hotter there than here. The only difference is that for you guys, it will become cold.. And you guys have AC and don't spend your days walking around in the sun haha. I'm glad to hear that your busness is doing so well! Decide what your gonna do about the ACS yet? Give D a big happy birthday hug for me and tell him that I sent him a birthday card 1-2 months ago! Hope it arrives soon!  

Oh! President Fusco is looking for a couple to work in the mission office! Know anyone? It's for 6 months (It can be extended), they can return home for Christmas/Thanksgiving, Its cheaper than serving a mission as a couple in the US, Portuguese is NOT required (President speaks English), They'll have a nice house close to the beach (Which they can visit whenever they want), They don't have to proselyte if they don't want to. Love you!!

This past week was a great lesson for me. Remember Gina? We've been teaching her for the last 3ish months (and the missionaries before us taught her too). Last week, we started thinking that maybe there was a better way that we could be using the Lords time. We decided to stop teaching her. On Friday, we had a Zone fast and we felt like we should pass by Gina again. Well, we did. She has a baptismal date for this Saturday!! Its crazy! We gave up on her right when she was ready! It reminds me of Moses and parting the Red Sea. He had to walk into the sea until it was right at his nose before anything happened. We always have to keep pushing, we always have to have faith. When it starts getting hard and you want to give up, push harder. That's when the miracles happen.


LOVE YOU ALL!!


-- 
Elder Hamstead



Time is seriously flying !...(July 28)





It's so crazy to think that it's almost August!! Time is seriously flying. Can you believe that in just a little over a week I'll have been serving for 6 months? And in just a little more than a month I'll have been in Brasil for 6 months? How crazy is that! Well this past week was great. We had a bunch of work and a bunch of great experiences. I don't have a bunch of time to write, but I want share with you guys an article that I read this week that you guys can read for FHE :). It's really super great and a great way to help yourself help non-members. 

Liahona - August 2014
"Por que nos partilhamos o Evangelho" - (Why we share the Gospel)
by Elder D Todd Christofferson.

Love you all!!

P.S.
So I've decided what I want for Christmas! Missionaries have a new family history pamphlet thats super cool! If you could fill one out as much as you can and if papa could fill one out as much as he can and if you guys could send those to me, that would be super cool :)



Act First..then comes the Miracle! (July 21)



This last week was really cool. The work here is seriously running. So much to do and so little time. Sometimes I think that 2 years just isn't enough time for the work of the Lord. Fortunately, all of us have a lot more than two years. We have every minute of every day. We always need to be serving him. He should always be the first thing on our minds (or at least on our minds). Unfortunately, we all have problems with this (even missionaries get distracted from time to time). No one on this Earth is perfect, which is perfect for us. We're all here to learn. If we were born perfect, we wouldn't ever learn anything. Our trials that we have and mistakes that we make in life are blessings from God. They're opportunities to learn, exercise our faith and become more like him (and we need to treat them as such). As we do this, we will be blessed. We'll feel our burdens lighten and we'll see the miracles of the Lord in our lives.

For the past 2ish months, we've been teaching a lady named Gina. Shes super cool and always has questions for us (an opportunity for her and for us to learn more :)). Unfortunately, she's facing a trial. Shes decided that she won't be baptized until she sees a change in her daughter (who was beptized in March). This is a perfect example of when we need to exercise our faith. She has a testimony, and is ready to be baptized but she wants to recieve her miracle first (Ether 12:6). To recieve the blessings of God, we always have to act first. When we face trials, all we have to do is follow 2 simple steps to be happy / to have the reaction we want. 1. Pray to God and beg him for an answer. 2. Act. Super simple, yet, for some people it seems almost impossible. 

Love you all!! Keep me in your prayers :)

-- 
Elder Hamstead

We don't really have the power to convince (July 14)





Super busy week! Unfortunately, I left my planner at home so I'm relyng 100% on my memory... Yesterday, we recieved the transfer news annnnnnd... No one in our area was transfered! It's really weird but we're not complaining. This last week really was a week of miracles. For the past 2ish week, we've been teaching a man named Charlier. He's a really great guy with a lot of faith. Unfortuately, he has a lot of problems as well. Mainly with the word of wisdom and chastity. Both of which he didn't want to believe were commandments of God the first time we taught them to him. During one of our visits there, after trying our best to prove to him / convince him that they are commandments of God, I realized what we were doing wrong. We really don't have the power to convince anyone of anything to do with God. But, fortunately, God does. I told him that we really don't want him to believe us but that we wanted him to really know for himself. I asked him to really pray that night, asking God if these commandments really are his. Guess what... They are! He prayed, he recieved his answer, and now he's trying to stop doing everything that he's been doing! Miracle!! 

Guess what! I rode A motorcycle for the first time!! Super cool!! Mom - We taught Gospel Principles in Salgueiro, but here there's a member called to teach. It's crazy how many misionaries are leaving! Our ward is gonna have a ton! 5 or 6 more this year? So awesome! Glad to hear your work is going so well! Papa - How does it feel having an absolutely massive TV? I can't even imagine a 70 inch TV anymore haha. I'm so jealous of you guys right now! New MAC and TV!?!? Couldn't have bought them a little over 6 months ago?? haha ;) Kelsey - Your adventure looks like it was a ton of fun! We're definitely returning there when I get home!! It's so weird. Before my mission, all I wanted was city life.. All I want now is a bunch of land and peace. Everything here is super close together (houses, stores, everything) like they're literally touching. There aren't areas of just open land like there is in the states. It's different, and I love it, I just don't think I could live with it for my entire life haha.

Love you all so much!!

Fourth of July - Brazilian style! (July 8)

This past week was so awesome!! Last Monday started off with an early morning ride to Fortaleza (We go basically every Monday now for training with President). I absolutely love the training sessions he gives and I feel extremely blessed to be serving under a future 70 or Apostle ;). 

On Wednesday, we had Zone conference. During it, we found out something great, that goes hand in hand with what I was ranting about in my last email haha. Our standard of excellence had been changed!! Basically doubled!! I'm not sure why, but it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. 

Friday was super cool! 4th of July!! And, since Brasil was playing in the world cup  that day, we couldnt leave the house. Soooo as any good American would do, we celebrated the 4th! It seriously felt like I was bck in the states. We BBQ'd, took pictures, annnd had fireworks all day long (thanks to all the Brazilians watching the game haha)! 





On Sunday, I went on splits with members for the first time. Fortunately, I was with a returned missionary. Unfortunately, in his mission, he didn't have the rule of teaching all lessons in 15 minutes or less. It's crazy to see the difference between people when you teach short and simple and when you teach long and complicated. I haven't been turned down / rejected once in Pacajus (and only like 3 times in my mission), until Sunday.. Basically every time we taught a lesson for over 20 minutes, the people didn't want us to return. This makes perfect sense to me. How did Jesus teach? Long and complicated? I dont think so. Every single one of his teachings were extremely simple (while at the same time being extremely deep). To have success in our lives, we need to gain atributes of Jesus. Only when we do this will we find success.


-- 
Elder Hamstead




p.s. I almost forgot!! I got to fill The baptismal font with a fire hose last week!!
p.p.s We didn't have P-day yesterday because we have a game today. President Fusco is letting us have P-day (allowed to leave the house) until 11AM (my time)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pushing to our Breaking Point





This has been my busiest week by far since I left Salgueiro. Fortunately, it started off and ended with Brasil playing in the world cup (AKA days that we can't leave the house). I'm not sure if I already told you guys this or not, but my companion right now hit 1 year right before I arrived. My first 2 companions of my mission were what we call trabalhadors (trabalho=work, trabalhadors=workers). You have no idea how much I miss really working. In Pacajus (my current area) my companion is convinced that as long as we have the "average" numbers, we're doing great. Unfortunately for him, I'm here to serve the Lord. The Lord doesn't expect just average. He expects us to do everything that we possibly can. Many people in the USA and here have this misconception with the word "grace". They think that as long as we do "ok", as long as we do "average", the Lord will do the rest. THIS IDEA IS TOTALLY AND UTTERLY WRONG. If we dont push ourselves to our breakingpoints, he wont be able to be there at the end waiting to catch us. We arent all the same, we all have different breakingpoints. For this reason none of us have any right to judge. We don't, and we can't, know when someone is doing their best. The only people that know if we're really pushing ourselves are... Ourselves (obviously) and our Father in Heaven. 

This last week, I really had the opportunity to push myself. Elder Aron (My companion/District leader) went on splits twice, leaving me in my area with 2 different Elders (The first was an American with 5 months in Brasil that can barely speak Portuguese. He was stateside for like 4 months beforehand and lost everything he learned in the MTC, The other was a Brazilian with the same problem as my comp). The first day I found 22 new investigators and the second l found 19. We already have baptismal dates with a handful of them. The average (and the standard) for our mission is 20 per week... Just imagine how many baptisms we would be having every week here if our standard were double!! I'm gonna keep trying to keep our numbers up.

So this Sunday, about 10 minutes before church started, the Bishop of our ward asked me to speak (in sacrament meeting). I was terrified. I got up onto the stand, said a prayer, and almost immediately felt impressed to talk about member missionary work. I have no idea how, but I was able to speak for a little under 15 minutes!! You have no idea how strongly I felt the Spirit while talking. I wish you guys could have seen it!! Such a great experience.

Elder Hamstead

Monday, June 16, 2014

The World Cup is here!

Sooooo this week was really interesting. I think that I forgot to tell you guys last week, but on days that Brasil plays in the World Cup, we (missionaries) have to stay in our house all day long. Last Thursday was the first game. Having 6 missionaries in our house was definitely a blessing on that day haha. I didn't get bored once haha. We played Uno for hours, I wrote a couple of letters, read a bunch, and played a bit of indoor soccer haha. Tomorrow is gonna be the second game of Brasil.. Wish us luck! This week was also the first time that I went on splits with the Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Cabral, an Elder with 23 months on his mission. I feel like I learned a bunch from him! 

Oh ya, I'm in Fortaleza... Again haha. President Fusco called us up last week and informed us that I would need to come to Fortaleza this week to have a full blood exam (12 different tests..... I hate needles sooooo much!). The results will be in in an hour or 2 and President said that he would call you guys when he has them (a couple days more). Oh almost forgot!! Next Pday, Brasil will be playing again. Sooo hopefully I'll be able to email on Tuesday. 


Mom! I knew they'd choose you!!! They'd have to be stupid not to. Don't worry, you were chosen for a reason... You're the best! At first you'll probably find it difficult (like I did on my mission) but the more time you spend with it, the more you'll become part of it and it'll become part of you. Just always do everything the way you feel like it needs to be done (lean on the Lord / Pray a lot. He'll tell you what to do). 


I love you so much!!!! 


P.s.
ALL the Elders (Except my companion ;) ) I live with want to marry Kelsey.....

P.p.s.
Not sure if youve already seen this video, but its awesome











P.p.p.s.
If you guys could print and send your emails that way, that would be awesome :) I don't mind if they're old. Right now I can only feel close to you guys by reading your letters on 1 day of the week.

Loving Portuguese and my new area (June 9)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!! I LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!!!

Ok, so as of this week our Internet rules have changed. We now only have one hour for email every week. Because of this, I'm gonna ask you guys to send your weekly letters by mail. You can still write it the same way, just instead of hitting send, hit print :). My last letter from the States (from the Stake Presidency) arrived here in a little under 2 weeks. The backlog (<-not sure if this word is right) of letters from the big mail strike has finally cleared up. Soooooo ya.. Please do that!! :). 


My first day in the new area
Elder Rodriguez's last day in the area

The chapel!
The stake center
Our house situation here is still unresolved. We now have 6 missionaries living in the house (2 more than when I arrived) and no time frame on when Sao Paulo will clear our contract so we can move in. Hopefully its soon! Living in a house with 4 missionaries living out of suitcases isn't super fun haha. Buttttt the chapel here is AWESOME!! Much better than my last one ;). We meet in the stake center soooo it's huge!! I'll send pics. 

Ok so last week, Elder Aron and I were invited to take part in the training of new missionaries in Fortaleza! I was super excited! This never happens! We packed our bags (we would be there for 3 or 4 days) the night before. Right before we went to bed, we received a call.. We wouldn't be going to Fortaleza anymore. Why? Because there was gonna be a big protest on the day that we were going to travel and it was too dangerous for us to leave (Mom, don't worry. This protest was in Fortaleza, nowhere near me.). Not gonna lie, I was pretty upset. The good news is that now, I'm grateful that we were able to stay here and meet the people. They're so awesome!! This last Sunday was Stake Conference so I haven't really had a chance to meet most of my ward, but the Bishop and the few members I've already met are AWESOME! 

Ok, quick update on my Portuguese. I can now understand basically perfectly (Unless the person has a wacky accent), I can read really well, annnd I feel like I've slowed down in my learning of how to speak. Its weird, when I first got here, I was much better at speaking than understanding. Now it's the opposite! I think my problem is that every day I prayed to be able to understand and never said anything about speaking... Oops!! But I'm starting to love Portuguese SOOOOO much! Not as much as I love you guys ;)... Buuuuut a lot! 

Love you guys so much!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

"In and outs" - Hospitals and Transfers!

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Checking in to the Hospital


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Checking out of the Hospital - three days later.
Ok haha. Not sure how to start this. First: On Monday night while I was talking to President, he mentioned that 2 scared to death parents had called him earlier in the day. Second: He said that next time this happens, I can call you guys or I can have him call for me.... So I won't be emailing anything "serious" anymore haha. I just wanted you to be able to sleep at night. Mom, I prayed for you to be able to sleep well every night since the day I found out that someone told you haha


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Playing Uno at the mission office
On Saturday night we received the call that I was gonna be transferred. We left Sunday afternoon and arrived in Fortaleza at 7am this morning. I waited with a bunch of other missionaries in the mission office for our companions to arrive (played uno and stuffffff). Oh so the way that transfers work was just changed here. Now right when both missionaries have arrived, you leave for your new area. 


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Saying goodbye to our home.


My 3rd Companion Elder Aron
Soooo when Elder Aron arrived, we didn't have any time to get to know each other or for him to tell me about our area or anything. A little less than an hour after we left, we arrived in Pacajus , my new area. I only have a couple hours here so I can't really describe it to you haha. I still haven't unpacked and I'm not sure if I will. We'll be moving to a new house either this week or next. Our mission (not sure about others) has a new rule that we can only have 2 missionaries per house. So ya, I'm actually really glad about this. I never had a house with more than 2, and I probably never will (we have 2 other Elders in our house but they wont arrive until Friday.. Hoping we're gone by then). 

Oh! President Fusco also said that he's working on getting AC for all of our houses and an iPad per dupla!!! Unfortunately the mission is a bit tight on cash right now (... I talk a lot with the secretaries haha) but it's looking like we'll get one or the other by January and the other about 6 months later! Wahoo!! I'll still be here for both!!! Soooo not sure what else... 
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Elder Jacome (my second companion) is baptizing Jorge in a pond like thingy at the farm of Zuzas dad
Oh ya!!! The most important part of my week!! My second baptism. Jorge is super cool. I only knew him for about 2 weeks, but spiritually, he's probably the strongest 15 year old I've ever met!! I'll send pics of my week. Hopefully the computers here are faster.

Love you guys!!! :)

Oh! Dont forget about drivers license and retainer!! :)

Saying Goodbye to "my families" in Santo Antonio