Friday, October 31, 2014

Sister Hallsted Arrival New York Utica Mission

Dear Brother and Sister Hallsted,

Sister Hallsted arrived safely in the New York Utica Mission on Tuesday, October 28, 2014.  She received training on Wednesday, met her companion and they departed to their assigned area.  Their pictures are attached.  President and Sister Wirthlin will love and support your missionary.   Please feel free to contact the Mission Office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Sister Larson
New York Utica Mission



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brynn's 1st email from the MTC: No Horchata in the MTC...

Dear Family,
I can't believe it's already been a week!!!! I've often said that I've stopped believing in time so I'm not even gonna try to figure out why it feels like I just got here but also like I've lived here for years. I'm kind of overwhelmed right now cuz I don't know where to start! If you're just wanting to know how I am and not wanting to read a whole letter, I'll make it easy for you. I am frrrreaking LOVING it. You can pretty much throw all mission expectations out the window, Haley, cuz it's just... the greatest thing ever. I have learned so so very much about myself and I'm glad I learned them fast cuz it's made the MTC amazing instead of like spirit prison...

Wednesday: Obviously, I said goodbye to my beautiful family and honestly, I haven't been sad since. I've had my moments of crying thinking about family and friends but it's kind of easiest to describe that I don't miss you guys, I just LOVE you guys so much. I have the coolest family ever but it didn't take a mission for me to realize that. So, right off the bat... I fell in love with my companion and sisters. ahhhhhhh. And I know she loves me too!!! We're like the same except, yeah, she is a whole foot taller than all of us sisters and she's already graduated from college and she's 23 and it's awesome. I am positive that you all will meet her someday. I've told her many times over that I prayed and prayed for a stellar companion and I really got one. Her name is Sister Collette. Our other Sistas are Sis. Sigleer and Sis. Seader. Love them so much. Wednesday, my feelings were just so so super excited to be there. In a little devotional at the beginning somewhere and we were asked to raise our hands if we were nervous and looking around we saw that me and Sister Collette were the only ones we could see who weren't nervous. I've only had 2 minutes of slight nervousness so far and I'll tell you about that in a sec!

Thursday, we've all decided is the hardest day at the MTC. You're thinking 'I'm seriously gonna do this for 18 months?'. My attitude was positive in a bad way where I was just telling myself to make it through the MTC cuz soon I'll be a "real" missionary in New York. Ha! I'm an idiot. I had this attitude of just trying to get through the MTC with at least passing grade in Heavenly Father's book until we met (ahlajlalajhh) our Branch Presidency. After an interview with the Branch Pres. I basically knew I was gonna be the Sister Training Leader for the District and I pretty much told him Sis. Collette has to be the one for the zone cuz she's the coolest and kind of the mom of the district. But that's not the important part... because then... I MET BROTHER BILBRO. Which may or may not be my favorite thing about the MTC and the hardest thing to say goodbye to because he loves me and I love him! Let me explain. The presidency went around meeting everyone and he stopped at me and said "Are you related to Barry Hallsted?" I said, "He's my dad!" and he grabbed my hand firmly and said "Your dad is one of my heros." Dad, you cannot even begin to understand the love that this man has for you! We had a whole district meeting revolved around you. I guess he worked with you in scouts. He thinks before you moved to cubs?? He knows more about you than I do! He told a story that you told him about the rocks on a hike and how the rocks were sins and laying them on the alter thing (explain to family, dad). It was everyone's favorite story of the day. So being Bro. Bilbro's daughter basically set me up to be the STL. Haha My entire attitude was changed after that. I decided to stop trying to take the easy way as I've always done my entire life. I didn't just want to be good enough anymore. I may have learned (finally) the importance of hard work! Many people will be thrilled to hear this :) I realized that I have so not been thinking about the people I am going to teach. I have just been thinking about me and MY mission and how I'M going to tough it out and make it through. I decided Thursday night that I was going to work harder than I ever have to be the best that I can be for my Heavenly Father to work with to help His children. This has changed everything!!!

Friday, the days started going by fast here and I am SO sad because I don't want to leave! I fell in love with my whole district on this day as we started acting in our new leadership positions. We have three elders going to Nampa Idaho and I pray that somehow they'll all be somehow switched to Utica! They're Elder Spindler (weirdy), Elder Edwards (weirdy) and Elder Berry (weirdy but not as weird:) He's my favorite. Can I have favorite elders especially when they're all my age? I adore them!!! 

Friday and Saturday were kind of the same but going by too fast. We have a lot of role plays and that was probably my biggest struggle at first because it's hard for me to get in to them when they're just my companion pretending to be the investigator but we still say a prayer and such. I thought that was weird at first but now I got it. We had our first lesson with our Potential Investigator Emily (just my teacher pretending) but it feels SO wonderful while we teach the lessons and so real! I think Friday was my 2 mins of nervousness right before we taught Emily for the first time. We said a prayer together as comps before we went in to teach and the second I sat down in front of "Emily" I felt so totally fine and I could feel Heavenly Father helping me to be confident the way I know I should be. Since then, the lessons have only gone up! We slowly let go of serious lesson planning and we totally feel the spirit guiding us to know what she needs! We've had what they call TRC lessons too and we all get a random person who may or may not be an actual investigator (they're not. I know it) and we got Victoria who we soon found out is this tiny little black lady with a lot of spunk, sass and hatred for Utah. We were in such shock after our first lesson because we only got to say a sentence each! And we went wayyyy over our time cuz she wouldn't even let us look at our watches. Sis. Collette was like in shock but I thought it was freaking hilarious. Yesterday, our lesson went much better cuz we learned how to be bold through charity so... basically I was just talking as loud and fast as I could before she did and cuz she was sassy I was sassy back. It was too fun although I don't think we got anywhere. haha

Basically Sunday is what I really want to write about.

Sunday, was amazing. You all know about the great devotional and such. Well, choir with Brother Eggett was amazing as always. SOOooo wonderful being in his choir again. I sat by Tahlia Pagua. There are sooo many people I know here! I am super shocked about that cuz I thought the whole world had already left on missions without me. They'll be people I don't even remember knowing but will say they know me, usually from Mountainville and I feel bad not knowing who they are. I'm not gonna lie. I feel super popular here. The devotional speaker was Chad Lewis! Their whole family came. It always seems like I'm lying cuz I'll be like I know that person or my dad grew up with Vi Sic-a-hema or yeah my dad, my dad, my dad! But it's always true.
All that stuff was amazing on Sunday and it is SO FUN to get close as sisters and elders because of our spiritual highs. I know that Heavenly Father loves to see us so happy like this. I've never gotten so close to strangers in such little time.

But, Sunday was my emotional day :) We had a leader meeting thing and started off singing How Great Thou Art :) I cried because that song is now my mommy song and I love it even though mom made me sing that a thousand times even like a half hour before I came here but now I love it. The next thing I can remember is having an interview with the branch presidency. I know Brother Bilbro chose to interview me on purpose. He told me I am his special treat and that he loves me so much. There are a lot of old men who hold a special place in my heart but Bro. Bilbro has built a mansion in it. I'm jealous that the elders can give him a hug. This interview with Brother Bilbro was maybe my most sacred moment in the MTC. I won't tell you everything about it except that I cried (because it was my emotional day) but it was good to cry like that. Dad, he loves you so much. He says he has a whole folder on things that Barry Hallsted taught him. Our interview went on for almost an HOUR. But it felt like five minutes.
We also got to walk around the temple! So amazingly special for me. I miss the temple so much.
Sacrament meeting was amazing even though our branch is like 12 people if that. The Branch President gave a talk at the end and, guess what! He mentioned something wonderful about dad!!! He winked at me from the pulpit, I looked at Bro. Bilbro and he laughed and shrugged his shoulders. I thanked both of them afterwards and Bro. Bilbro asked for dad's number! Tell me if he called you! I haven't gotten to see him since then!

I'm running out of time, but Tuesday we had an amazing devotional, sang in the choir, I got a bloody nose (I've had like a hundred of them) and had to leave during the middle of it dragging Sis. Collette with me and I felt bad.

Today has been absolutely the best!!! The sisters always make us all run for gym. I hate it haha. I'm like all sore and getting muscle and they love to torture me. But if we go out to the field and run around it I promise not to complain and it is beautiful! I have the elders shake this one tree and I stand under the yellow leaves and it makes me on a happy high for the rest of the day.
So, today we got to choose what to do! We went with our elders to play 4 square! We tried to play volleyball first but I was the only one who could stand being barefoot in the sand in the freezing cold morning. Wimps. But four square was the most fun I've had so far at gym time!!! We are so gonna have an MTC district reunion cuz we're all best friends.
Today, we're gonna go to the byu bookstore to see Sis. Seader's friend with our elders and we're all gonna go do endowments together ! I got so excited to go to the temple yesterday that I started crying!

Funny moments with Sis. Collette: Yesterday, we're all spiritual and serious when comp studying together and she combined "focused" and "picked" and accidentally said the F-word. She has a problem with peeing her pants when she laughs so that almost happened. Also, we went on a class field trip and pretended like we were showing an investigator around a church. So, I was showing her where Sunday school was (pointed to random class), kept walking, said "And this is where we have Relief Society" and the door nearest happened to be the men's bathroom. She did pee her pants that time. Success.

Thank you for all the prayers and thank Sis. Oborn for the packages! That's so nice of her to send me stuff! We've loved it!  I didn't realize there was gonna be such thing as a sharing shelf that just happens to have all my favorite things on it everyday. It's so hard to resist.

Since I love everyone receiving this email it's okay for me to reassure everyone and say that my diarrhea's completely gone!!! It really is a miracle. I don't ever want to leave the MTC and be separated from my district, but I know I'll fall in love with New York just as much as I've fallen in love with the MTC.

Sure love ya Mommy, daddy, Ammon, Amanda, Derek, Breton, Haley, Hannah, Hyguy, Phoebe, and even Schofield :)

Sure love ya,
Sister Brynnie Hallsted

ps. Found a hair from Schofield on my skirts and I cried. I guess I miss that annoying dog.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

1st letter from the MTC! handwritten

Dear Family,

We're supposed to write a letter home tonight to let you know we're alive! Time flew by so fast tonight because we had to unpack and check out the bathrooms and and find a drinking fountain that actually works and fun stuff like that.  So basically I don't have much time so this letter will be kind of scattered!  Before I forget, can you please email Timo my MTC address? Before Monday.  My P-Day is Wednesday I guess (I'm not actually positive on that) but send people my address! I am already craving letters from y'all.

So, holy smokes guys, the MTC is... just an awesome place with ordinary kids in it, who are all nervous and say really stupid things sometimes and make lots of embarrassing mistakes. For example, we were doing our first group role playing type thing and an elder said, "Do you talk to your family much?" And "Lawanna" says, "Everyone but my sister. She's passed away." And the Elder says, "Oh, do you talk to your sister much?" Hahaha.  The lady acted super offended and said, "No. That'd be creepy cuz she's dead."  He was so embarrassed. He gave me confidence :). Because I soon realized that everyone here are just people (and it seems like almost everyone is a new-bee like us), I haven't been nervous one bit.  My companion and I were some of the only people who didn't raise our hands in the first devotional when they asked, "Who's nervous?" My comp seems awesome! At least from what I can tell so far. I have already learned so much from her and our working together! Her name is Sister Terra Collette and she's a whole foot taller than me! Haha It's actually kind of weird for me trying to talk to her with her head all the way up there. She lives in Murray and has 7 siblings too and she's already graduated...from college. She's 23! It's surprisingly not weird for me. So obviously I plan to set her up with Ammon in 18 months. I like the other girls we're with a lot! We're all really young and short :). A few random things: I could TOTES get away with never showering here! But, don't worry Amanda, I won't :). Also, I haven't had diarrhea once so far and I totally ate the dinner! (Tell Sis. Pew she can go ahead and send me those donuts then if she wants :))

People say that time in the MTC goes by slowly or that they weren't happy until the third day, but my goodness, I've been in absolute heaven the entire time.  The only time it's felt dragging along was at night cuz we didn't know what to do with our free time. Another random thing...I've figured out ways to have a bit of alone time without breaking any rules :).  I'll tell you how it goes. So, yes family, I'm safe and have a bed (top bunk and everything woot woot!). I don't think it's sunk in yet that I'm not going to see your beautiful faces (well at least MOST of your faces are beautiful:)) for 18 months. But I love you guys!

Love,
Sister Hallsted

P.S. I feel about my nametag like how I feel about my garments. I absolutely ADORE my beautiful nametag!

PPS. It's morning now and it's so nice having so much extra time while the girls get ready bc I don't have to get ready!

PPPS. Post this letter on my blog if you want!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Farewell

BRYNN'S TALK

For those new members in our ward who may not know me, I’m Brynn Hallsted. Soon I’ll be referred to as “Sister Hallsted” because in case you didn’t know, I am going on a mission to Utica New York in 17 days. I’ve always wanted a musical number for my farewell and my dream came true because today I got the whole primary to sing for us! Even though it’s kind of different for a farewell, I’m glad that I get to be up here with them because I honestly feel more comfortable with my Primary Kids than I do in Relief Society :) So, for my talk I was given the topic of Following the counsel of the prophet.
-One thing that signifies our church from the rest is that we know we have a living prophet who speaks to us. In Preach My Gospel it reads:
“One important way that God shows His love for us is by calling prophets; who are given the priesthood-the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. Prophets learn the gospel of Jesus Christ by revelation. They in turn teach the gospel to others and testify of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer…In essence the prophet acts as a steward to oversee the household of God here on earth.”
We are so honored to have our prophet speak to us next week. I think it’s important that we all begin to prepare now to hear the prophet speak to us at General Conference this weekend.
-When I was a little kid I LOVED General Conference. In Junior High I had countdowns on my phone till the next Conference Weekend. To me, General Conference meant my mom makes german pancakes, that I’d get a lot of drawing practice done as I drew every speaker’s face and I’d anxiously wait for one of Elder Uchtdorf’s “feel-good” talks. Thankfully I’ve grown up a little and Conference means so much more! But I still love those same things about General Conference :)
A lot of times I think we take for granted how easily we are able to listen to our prophet and his apostles speak to us. There are still people who have to travel far to be able to listen to the Prophet and we usually don’t have to sacrifice much more than our time. I am grateful every Conference Weekend that I don’t even have to get out of my pajamas to hear the prophet speak to the world! There are many ways to hear the words of the prophet and I think we should make it known that one of those ways is only a few clicks away! We are so lucky to have the technology that we have these days, but we all need to ask ourselves if we’re taking full advantage of it.
Today, I kind of just want to remind everyone how lucky we are to be living on this earth today. We were chosen to be part of a dispensation where a prophet of God is alive on the earth. We have a man who God has chosen to hold the keys of the Priesthood and Christ’s gospel has once again been restored on the earth. If you have nothing else in your life to be happy about, we ALL can at least be grateful for that.
The prophet’s that have presided over the church in what we know to be the last dispensation were probably some of the strongest, most faithful men in the pre-earth life. In a CES fireside, Elder William R. Walker gave a talk on the Prophet’s life, he said,”This is the Lord’s Church. He plans the lives of these great Apostles, and He places them in the position to lead His Church. It is a fact that one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Lord’s Church is that He has apostles and prophets on the earth today. There are no coincidences, there are no mistakes, and there are no campaigns. When it comes to succession in the Presidency of the Lord’s Church, the Lord is in charge, and surely His will is done.”
I know that President Monson has been our prophet these past 6 years for a reason and that it was Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning. The people on the earth today are more wicked than ever; the prophets of old had prophesied the great wickedness that would be on the earth during this time for centuries. …..God would only send down his strongest people to lead the church in the last days. He would only give us the wisest men to strengthen us as we resist temptations from the world. And He would only place, on the earth, the most faithful prophets to prepare the world for the coming of the Savior.
We are SO super blessed to be able to hear from them so often!
It is so important that we learn about President Monson, his apostles and the prophets we have had in the past. It’s good to read back on past general conference talks and devotionals, but it’s also a good idea to learn about the lives of the prophets.
-Following the prophet also means to follow the example of the prophet! In Elder Walker’s talk, he talks of how much his love has grown for President Monson as he has personally come to know him and know more of his past. He says, “I believe one of the important patterns in our lives is the life of the prophet who guides and directs the Lord’s Church in our day. I have always felt that I can be a better person when I pattern my life after righteous individuals that the Lord has placed in my path: my grandparents, my parents, my bishops, my mission president, and of course, the prophet of God... We would all be blessed to seek to pattern our lives after and learn from the Lord’s prophet…. As we follow the prophet and try to be more like him, we will inevitably succeed in being more faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

When I found out I was giving my talk on Following the Prophet, I knew I had to share one of my favorite ways I’ve found to learn more about the Prophet. Last year, I was looking around on the Mormon Channel on our TV. I was looking for new Mormon Messages, but I somehow found a short movie about the life of Thomas S. Monson. Many of you have probably already seen it, but I had never even heard of it. It’s called ‘On the Lord’s Errand’ and I invite all of you to watch it with your families. It’s a great way to prepare to hear the prophet speak at General Conference. I absolutely LOVED learning about our current prophet in a way I had never before. and I more realized that he was once a teenager like me, making mistakes & learning & growing in the gospel... and I’m sure he still is! :)
I think it’s also a good idea to take some time and review the words of the prophets. Lot’s of us like to find different “themes” in every General Conference, but it’s even more fascinating to find themes in the current prophet’s talks over the years and find what things are for you personally or were for the church as a whole. From looking for common things past prophets have said over the years, we can learn what is most important to Heavenly Father and know better what we should be making a priority in our life. When we have General Conference, the words of our leaders should take a prevalent place in our personal and family study.
I have been amazed at the power that comes into my life when I make it a priority to learn and listen to the prophets and apostles, and the confidence that I have when I do this grows and I know, without question, that the counsel I am receiving is coming from God.
-This weekend, we will sustain Thomas S. Monson as our prophet, seer and revelator. That sustaining is also us bearing our testimonies to the world that we believe Thomas S. Monson to be God’s prophet, seer and revelator. When we sustain him as our prophet, we are also saying that we will follow him, his council and the commandments as best we possibly can. We believe that God literally reveals truth to the prophet to help us out here on earth. And in this day and age, we need all the help we can get :) I know at least I do. I am willing to follow anything the prophet asks of me because I know that when he gives us important council, that it is from Heavenly Father.
While I was doing research for my talk, I noticed something repeated throughout a lot of the talks and quotes I read. It is that following the prophet takes a lot of faith. ‘Following the prophet’ is a phrase we hear so often that I think we push it aside, because we already know it’s important to follow the prophet of God. As kids are growing up I think it’s so important to go back to the basics of the gospel. Like Following the Prophet. We sometimes leave the basics up to the primary to teach, but over their years of learning, kids may begin to forget or overlook the simple gospel principles they began with.
The commandment to ‘follow the prophet”, for example, relies on the basic principle of faith.
Elder Eyring said, Looking for the path to safety in the counsel of prophets makes sense to those with strong faith. When a prophet speaks, those with little faith may think that they hear only a wise man giving good advice.
It takes a lot of faith to follow the prophet when we don’t yet know why a commandment is given or when we don’t quite want to follow it. We can’t always comprehend why we are given certain commandments or instructions nor should we try to understand everything before obedience.

“The longer you follow down a path, the easier it becomes.”
I sometimes think to myself, “Do I follow our prophet like the pioneers followed Joseph Smith?” They weren’t perfect, and our Heavenly Father did not expect them to be, but their faith was strong and they tried with all their might. The pioneers examples strengthened us later and will continue to be examples of having enough faith to follow a prophet for years to come. They are great examples that we achieve the greatest happiness in this life and in the next by following the living prophet.
I know that following the prophet makes you stronger in the long run.
During high school, I was always much younger than everyone else in our grade. At the beginning of my Junior year, I still wasn’t 16. This wasn’t a big deal for me until all the boys in our ward decided to make a group date with all the girls in our ward. and the hardest part, was that I would turn 16 just 2 days after homecoming. I talked with my parents before hand and together we decided that if I got asked, I’d say no. It was really hard for me at the time as I watched all of my best friends getting asked, buying beautiful dresses and get their hair and make-up ready for the dance. They left and I stayed home and watched Pride and Prejudice all by myself to make the whole situation seem even more pathetic (: My friends seemed to talk about how amazing it was for weeks after, but soon I was able to brush it aside because I felt so strongly that I had done the right thing. The decision I made was the right thing for me at the time and it was probably something I needed to learn. It wasn’t about not dating even though I had 2 days till I turn 16, but it was about learning that following the prophet in the smallest ways made me stronger for future decisions. I know that nothing terrible would have happened if I had decided it was okay to date before I turned 16, but it became a strength to me that I knew I had followed the prophet, even though it was really hard. and I knew that I had set an example to my little sisters. The funny thing is that the day after homecoming, when I was sitting in Young Womens at church, we had a lesson on dating. We all had to draw a slip of paper and read a quote from the Strength of Youth. I laughed when I pulled out my slip of paper because it said something about how that prophet has counseled us not to date before we are 16. You could imagine how awkward it would have been if I had dated before I was 16 just the night before! :) I know that following the prophet’s counsel not only saved me from that awkward situation, but it has truly made me stronger in the long run.
-The commandments are meant for all people. No one is the exception to them. No one should assume they know better. or assume they’re “safe” without them.

Joseph smith said, “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire.”

-This April, I had the amazing opportunity to sing for the Saturday afternoon session of conference. Initially, I tried out for the Orem Institute choir because I thought it would be cool to have my family and missionary friends see me on TV :) But the closer we got to General Conference, the more the practices became about spiritually preparing ourselves to stand and preach the gospel to the world through the music. Our choir director prepared us to sing for the prophet. He taught us about the prophet and made us understand what an honor it was to be singing not only for the world, but for the prophet of God. At the end of all of our practicing, we were all more excited to be representing Christ to the world and to be so close to President Monson that day. Of course it was still cool to be on TV and my mom got tons of texts when my face came onto the screen :) It was amazing to be in the conference center and it was even more amazing to think that I was sitting so close to the man who is God's representative on the Earth today.
I know that Thomas S. Monson truly is God’s only living prophet on the earth today. I know that he receives revelation directly from our Heavenly Father and I know that his guidance is direction from God to each and every single one of us. I know that if we make it a daily priority to follow the prophet, we will be happy. I know it because I have done it… and I am so full of the happiness that the gospel brings. I am SO excited to go to New York and tell all the people I can find that God has allowed Christ’s gospel to be restored to the earth again... and He has chosen to speak directly through a living prophet today.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

A few of the many people who came to support Brynn