Monday, November 24, 2014

Bennington VT #4 You're wearing a shirt!?

I've got like no time left to write so you'll all be happy to know that this won't be such an obnoxiously long letter this week :)

-Elder Katcher came to Utica! woot woot. He's the guy who gave the talk about the riptide (?) He is amazing. We had a fireside on Tuesday night and Zone Conference with him on Wednesday. We didn't get tons of lessons in this week because we're so far away from everyone that it takes us over an hour to get anywhere. I wanted to give you all lots of amazing notes from the conference but I don't have time today so maybe next week!

We had to leave by 5;30 to even get to there on time, but we had a way fun drive.
When we got there, I looked at the program and my name was at the bottom under interviews. I didn't really know what that meant at first but I guess they just chose two random sisters out of the two zones to have an interview with Elder Katcher and it was me and Sister Thao! SO amazing. The whole conference was wonderful but that was the best part. He basically read my soul in that interview. I'm trying to decide if I want to write it on here because it was really sacred to me..

-Friday morning was maybe the roughest part of the whole Vermont experience because Sister Gass has been feeling sick. I'm maybe the least sympathetic person in the world so this was hard for me. She wanted to change into sweats and a t-shirt and go over to Jessica's to do "service" and clean her house. We go to do her dishes.

-Friday night however made up for all of it! We had the Bennington Branch Thanksgiving dinner! SO fun! It was super stressful for Sis. Gass to get everyone there but I knew it'd all work out. I drew this ridiculous little flyer and we went around during the week and invited our people to it and almost all of them came! It felt like me and Sister Gass were getting married and this dinner was our reception :) We just ran around the whole time talking to people, meeting less actives, eating tons of food and introducing our investigators to members. Maybe the greatest night of my mission.

That quote comes from one of the more awkward things I said this week. We have a RCLA named John who never ever ever wears a shirt. Him and his wife can't make any promises about coming to church because he has this tube sticking out of his heart that makes things hard for him (duh), but they could promise they were coming to this dinner. Haha Whatever. So, when I see him, I'm like "John! You're wearing a shirt?! I've never seen you wear a shirt before!" and it was just super awkward for everyone.

Another stupid thing I said that night: Mary Beth actually came to the dinner even though she said she'd probably not make it! She works in home health care (everyone does here) and the old lady had to go to the hospital so MB could come! So when I'm saying goodbye to Chad & MB, I'm like "Well, I'm really glad that old lady had to go to the hospital so you could come tonight!" I regretted those words right after they came out of my mouth. MB was laughing so hard, so... I guess that was good!

This shouldn't be what I'm going to use my time to write about in my "short" email this week cuz it's not that important... just hilarious. So, maybe the most hilarious thing about the whole night was when Brother B walks into the church after having picked up a Less Active Mary Lou. I go to shake his hand and he says "Sorry, I gotta go wash this. I've got dead cat all over me." Oh no. Mary Lou has the worlds nastiest most hideoderous cat with fur missing. She had had it for 17 years and would pray for it all the time. So, I guess when Brother B showed up to get her, she was bawling. Her cat was dead on the couch but she wasn't sure if it was dead yet. Bro B said it was stiff as a board. She told me all about how she played songs on her guitar and sang as her cat screeched out in pain for a few hours. But she thinks they relaxed him eventually cuz he stopped! (he died.) It should be sad but it's just hilarious to think of the hours she spent singing to that dead cat.
He would still be there.. dead on the couch if we hadn't invited her to this dinner. Nobody ever goes to Mary Lou's house except us every so often so it's just amazing how Heavenly Father is looking out for everyone! There was no better time to kill off that cat than that day.
Bro. B put it in his car and we're totally gonna bury it and have a funeral on Thanksgiving cuz she's coming to the Behunin's with us. That'll be hilarious! I'm thinking of writing a speech :)

Anyways, I'll be nice now.

Charlann totally stopped smoking!!! She's absolutely perfect, guys. She's so so excited for her baptism and invites everyone she meets.

Jackson is still out of town in New Jersey but he's still amazing. He shares the Book of Mormon with everyone and calls us to talk to us about how it so applies to his life. We're speechless after every conversation cuz he teaches us.
He called me and talked to me for like 15 minutes before church yesterday and told me about how the police totally beat the crap out of him. I was crying laughing so hard!!! He was on his way to the midnight showing of Mocking Jay and the police wanted to inspect his van. He said Heck no, I'm gonna be late to see J-Law on the big screen and then he had 6 cop cars following him. They pulled him out of his van when he got to the theater and threw him on the ground and handcuffed him. SO funny to picture that. They took him to the police station and then realized he'd done nothing wrong and he got let go. He still has pepper spray under his fingernails. He's hilarious.

-Everytime we take a picture on main street, a miracle happens. We were taking dumb pictures last night and an Asian man ran to us, told us he wants to meet up with us, gave us his number, got ours and left. Super weird but so cool! We're gonna take more pictures :)

I'm so sorry for the ridiculous email, but this week was kind of ridiculous. Now we get to go drive 4.5 hours to UTICA for Return and Report! SO excited to see my MTC sisters again.

I love you ALL. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving even if you don't get to bury a dead cat like I do :)
Love, Sister Brynnie Hallsted

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bennington VT #3 T-Swift and the BOM

Dearest Family,
One month down!!! This week was absolutely amazing. We had an awesome District meeting, exchanges, I gave a talk (woot woot), hit my ONE MONTH MARK, it snowed.. twice, Charalnn quits smoking today (AH) and me and Sister Gass are getting closer each day! One of my greatest accomplishments as a missionary so far is that I've made Sister Gass cry laughing so hard twice. Sis Collette would pee, Sis Gass cries so I supposed my next companion will barf or something. The point is... our companionship unity is getting much better and I'm starting to lead out in more of our lessons!
In case you're one of my missionary buds who don't get on Facebook, the subject line comes from that man Jackson. Jackson is what makes me say this week was amazing though.
We met at Dunkin Donuts finally and found out some about him. This is kind of what I wrote in our record book about him: He's 36 and single. He's in Bennington because he wants to start a screen printing shop, but his favorite book was written at Bennington college and this girl he met just barely goes there. He knows he came to Bennington so randomly for a reason and he knows he was led to meet us. He's absolutely obsessed with Taylor Swift. It is freaking hilarious to me. He says "All I have to do is mention Taylor Swift and Sister H over here gets all red in the cheeks and starts giggling." Everyone's started calling me Sister H cuz I guess Hallsted's just too hard.

People keep giving her a hard time cuz she's like lives on a farm in Southern Utah and she talks like it too! Everyone keeps pointing out her accent this week and I make fun of her SO badly because of it. I love it though! It cracks me up and I think it's cute cuz it fits her somehow.

Having Sister Thao with us for 3 days was SO fun. She came out with me (wasn't in my district though) but she's hilarious. We loved having her and it was good to have her here cuz it made us grateful for each other. She came for a super stellar three days though so she is convinced that we should be Sister Training Leaders. She is hilarious!

Sister Thao made us even more excited about Jackson because I guess her area is absolutely dead. I guess we worked her half to death. Because we're all noobs we think Jackson is the greatest thing ever. After another lesson (where he gave us a plethora of free t-shirts he made- ahhh), we asked him how his reading is coming along in the Book of Mormon. The three of us are all sitting around the cell phone with our mouths wide open cuz he replies "page 221". WHAT?!
He is now almost done and, please, stalk him on facebook, because you can see that he has glued Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence in the covers of the Book of Mormon because we said he could personalize it and mark it up if he wanted. Hahaha! We didn't necessarily mean like that but whatever. He's already becoming a missionary too! He's in Baltimore right now getting his stuff to move back here and he says he's talked to people on the bus, train, everywhere and told them about why he loves the Book of Mormon so much. What the heck!! It's awesome.

Charlann is quitting smoking today!!! We're going over to hide her cigarette maker machine thing right after this. Should be awesome. She wants everyone to pray for her :) We went over all the baptismal interview questions with her and she passed! Except for the smoking of course. But I know she can do it.
So, before Sacrament meeting started yesterday, I was telling Charlann that I was nervous to give my talk. She would have none of that! Haha She told me to look right at her and to just think about Jesus the entire time because He's the only one who really matters who will be listening. Then she thought we should say a prayer. So she puts her forehead to mine, holds my hands and prays out loud. I loooove her :) It helped a lot.
I have never given a talk so well in my life!!! I wasn't nervous when I got up there and I totally looked up and everything. First time ever. Everyone loved it and it got people actually interested to know me. Our dinner list is now basically full so hopefully we can leave good impressions when we come over to all these people's houses and they will help us out with our missionary work! When I sat down from my talk the 1st counselor in our branch (most intimidating man on earth) wrote me a note on his program "Now that is a TALK! Very GENUINE and WELL done!!" Gosh. That right there may have boosted my confidence level more than... something because he scares the crap out of me because I don't know if I can be as amazing of a missionary as he wants me to be. But now I have a little more confidence that I can do it. A stake high council guy spoke after me and he was just bawling from my talk. Super cool. I guess someone with the last name of Hallsted changed his life but I didn't get to talk to him after cuz he left so fast! It was amazing though. Watch, it'll be dad again :)

Mary Beth and Chad didn't come to church cuz they got really sick, but we went over last night anyways and their pitbull, Angel, fell asleep on me again and left nasty drool all over my skirt. I hate all the animals here. But Sister Gass thinks it's hilarious how they all love me for some reason.

Since it's getting colder and rainy a lot, we are slipping and sliding all over the place! Sister Thao almost biffed it and Sister Gass has fallen twice. Super funny.

Guys. There's no way I can tell you everything I want to tell you. Thank you all so much for the support through letters and Facebook. I love it and I wish I could comment back! Sure love all of you. I'll try to figure out how to send those pictures... I'll post more on Facebook tomorrow!

Sister Brynnie Hallsted

1. Got to exchange back and see Sister Collette on our 1 month anniversary!
2. We got ice cream at Stewarts to celebrate.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bennington Vermont #2 - "Make Time for God, Maggie."

Dear Family,
I want to thank everyone for the packages that you sent me while I was in the MTC. I've lost track of the people I thanked so I want to do a big thank you to you guys, Sister Pew & Gwen, Sister Oborn, the Youngs, Manda and the mystery person (maybe Nana) who sent me Pumpkin bread :) I was SO spoiled in the MTC.

So... I'm gonna be bad at writing these letters because... there's just too much. But for right now I'll just introduce you to some people that I've met that I love so much! It really is so amazing how fast you can fall in love with these people you hardly know!

Brother Behunin: First person I met and first person I loved. He had a greeny dinner for me my very first night! Literally everything was green. He even painted his fingernails green. Haha So I liked him right off the bat. SO so nice to have that when I was feeling like I was gonna cry because I had just lost Sister Collette. We have FHE with them every Wednesday night and dinner. He also takes us to breakfast every p-day. So nice! I guess he's like the father to all Sister missionaries.

Charlann: Oh. My. Gosh. Charlann is like Cassandra from The Enchantress of Crumbledown I've decided. She's our most solid investigator and if she can quit smoking by the 20th, she can get baptized December 20th! I want that so badly for her! I'm sure you're not supposed to choose favorite investigators, but ooooh she is my favorite. Is it so weird to love somebody so much that things are like cute to me now?! I love her long silver hair. Charlann provided the quote in the subject line and I so wish I could have you guys hear her voice. She loves loves loves Jesus. We actually have a lot in common with the ways our testimonies first started to grow. Hers is all founded on her love for God and she will burst into prayer at the most random times and be like "Father! I'm getting stressed!" I love it because I do the same thing... just not out loud during a conversation with people :)

Jessica: She's a recent convert with three of the craziest boys I've met in my entire life. Like, the first time I met them, we got a text from her saying "The boys are excited to break in the new sister." Sister Gass told me I should be worried and when we walked in they were all armed with nerf guns and pillows and it hasn't stopped since. It is a constant battle and I feel for Jessica because of the extremely rough life she has lived. I hated that. 

Chad, Mary Beth & Michko: Jess said this quote because on fast Sunday, our investigator Chad bore his testimony. MB is his almost (hopefully soon!) wife and Michko is their daughter. So cute. We just had a super successful lesson with them yesterday about temples! Like, they both feel this extremely strong desire to work towards going to the temple that may just get them to baptism. Super cool to see them suddenly progress so fast just because they can both feel that power from just hearing about temples in church. They have this pittbull, Angel, that literally attacks me (with love) every time I come over and no one knows why. I hate it but I love them.

Zubin: Nothing's actually happened with him but I so hope and pray because this is the first person I gave a Book of Mormon to! I was so awkward but I loved it!!! This is how it went... Sunday night was freezing, it was almost time to go home and I had been trying to give my book to someone but no one was around because it was super cold. Me and Sister Gass said a prayer that someone would show up. A few people did! But they just ran inside a restaurant from their cars. But as we're walking up main street once again... I see someone and I ditch Sister Gass and say "That's the one!". He looked like a boy my age. He passes me, we say "hello" then (I'm SO awkward) I say "Um... excuse me... Could you just wait a second?" He stopped and was so nice and says "Sure!" I pull out my Book of Mormon from my poofy jacket and say "I know it's super cold & you probably want to get inside but, you see, we're missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... Mormons?" He's like "Oh yeah! The people who believe in having 9 wives!" ha ha he No. Then I asked him if I could talk to him for a sec cuz "you see, I'm trying to give away this book." Haha. I'm getting better at this part :) He was thrilled and said "Oh! I'll take your book!" and he went to grab it but I held it away so I could talk to him about it first. It was just AMAZING because before I started talking to him, I was trying to practice what I would say and I could not do it. But it suddenly came so naturally that I felt like I wasn't even the one speaking to Zubin anymore. I think Heavenly Father was so nice and practically handed me that boy to give me courage to continue to open my mouth!

Jackson: We are SO blessed! Sister Gass says this thing happens to missionaries all the time but it's never happened to me yet so I can be freaking out excited as much as I want! This man... is hard to explain. He basically just walked up, said he has been watching us and knows he needs to meet with us while he's still in town. He's... extremely hard to follow just by talking to him, but all we know is that he is very VERY excited to meet with us, but he's rescheduled twice. Ugh. I think he's kind of having a crisis in his life right now and is kind of just traveling around looking for a job. He's so excited that we actually are kind of worried. Haha As we were texting, we said we're excited to meet with him. He replies "No. no. I can promise you that I am more excited than you are." You are?? He says he has a ton of questions so we better be ready. He calls us sweethearts and has shared a ton of my facebook photos. Even photos of my mtc sisters so we're just really confused about him. He says he's excited to talk to someone who knows "the Truth". We'll meet with him tomorrow (hopefully) and we'll see what happens! But it was awesome to have someone just walk up and force his contact info upon us. If only that was everyday :)

So many more people, but no time! I LOVE the people of Bennington too much.

Random things:
-We had the Palmyra temple President speak to us yesterday in church! So cool! He came to our Gospel Principles class. I like teaching it!
-A drunk man stopped us, mixed Jesus's name and the F-word in the same sentence a few times, demanded to know our first names (we made up names), he kissed our hands and left. Super weird. Haha!
-We had a district meeting on Wednesday and ahhhhhhhhhhh. Sister Collette is in my District!!! I feel like this is Heavenly Father's way of showing me how much He loves to see me happy :) And that I should be happy more often. I love her SO much.
-We had a District activity today and played volleyball. I was so dreading it but it turned out to be fun! Everyone was so nice to me and tried to help me out a lot without making me feel like an idiot :) 

Well, of course there's much much more and of course I've been on the computer way over time and of course I sure love all of you and would sure love to get hand written letters from you all! I am SO grateful for everything you guys have done for me and I'm especially feeling so grateful for all the many ways I've felt blessed as a missionary. I know that the gospel is the only way to return back to Heavenly Father and I know that's what He wants more for us than anything else!
I sure love you all :)
Sister Brynnie Hallsted

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bennington Vermont #1: I Got Gass

Dearest Family,
Happy birthday Brad and happy birthday tomorrow mom!!! I love you both!
This is going to be SUCH a hard letter to write! I'll try to keep in mind that I'll be seeing all of you again someday and will have eternity to tell you all of my stories :) It looks like you all had a great Halloween and Hyrum's costume wins for being the creepiest. Haley... your clothes are so going to feel my wrath when you leave on your mission cuz I see that you are wearing my most favorite clothes... We'll talk later.
But these past... 2 weeks? Have been basically insane. But a good kind of insane for the most part! I'll just wrap up the MTC with the best moments and our last day together as District 59 B and then tell about being a for real missionary!
The MTC:
-I forgot to tell you last time that apparently I sleep talk in my sleep... and I teach lessons!!! My sleep talking has truly been out of control because I woke myself up one night yelling at Derek to shut up and another night I woke up cuz I was laughing so hard at something Breton said in my dream. My poor MTC sisters. One morning Sister Sigleer said she didn't think my lesson was going very well that night cuz I was getting frustrated with my investigator for not keeping her commitments. Ha!
-Oh! P-day! We went to the temple and to the BYU book store. I saw Brother Feilbach. That was cool. Being in the celestial room with my darling district was so like heaven.
Last Lessons with our Investigators:
-Our last lesson with Emily (Sis. Davis) was one of those amazing lessons where you are speaking to the investigator but really you are more experiencing the lesson than teaching it. It was AMAZING. Before our lesson, Sister Collette was uneasy for the first time ever. We planned to bring a "member" (just Sis. Sigleer) so Emily would have a friend at church and Sis. Collette was so worried about that. But, she's amazing and trusts me so much, because I told her that I felt really good about it, she trusted that it was a good idea. The beginning of the lesson was so rough but suddenly I just dropped the lesson and kind of told Emily about an experience from my life. I was getting a little choked up, but Emily and Sis. Collette (I love her) were in tears. Sis. Collette was actually like bawling. Haha It was incredible because none of what came out of my mouth was my plan at all and the spirit was so strong. I was so sad to leave Sister Davis and 'Emily'. She cried when we said goodbye.
-Our last lesson with Victoria was way weird cuz it was ove skype but she couldn't get it to work where we could see her face... so we just saw the dashboard of her car the whole time. It was awkward and kind of sad saying goodbye to a dashboard instead of her face because we really do love her. Oh well.
Favorite MTC moments:
-There's this screen in the cafeteria with people's names on it telling you to come to the front office for some reason. So mysterious. So much fame. So I always was telling Sister Collette that the day one of our names are up there will be the happiest day of my life. Well, when Sis. Collette lost her MTC ID card, we walk into the lunch room, and her name was on the board! I just screamed and dragged her to the front desk. At the end of lunch, the board said TWO of our elders names. We were so excited but we had to wait till dinner, after classes, to go to the front desk. By the time dinner came... on the screen said "Brynn Suzanne Hallsted". I was beyond happy. Me, Elder Berry and Elder Spindler all got a picture pointing to our names. I'll send it when it gets sent to me!
-Greatest moment ever... another Sister C peeing her pants story! So, this is a kind of sad story because we were in one of the little chapel rooms, practicing our song for Sacrament meeting after dinner and it was dark and quiet and kind of spiritual. We sang Come Thou Fount. The girls sang the first line, the elders sing second then we all come in and sing the third together. Classic, you know. And us sisters sounded so good together and the spirit was really strong in that dark chapel room during the first verse, but then... the elders come in and they are all really great! It's just that Elder E comes in singing all opera-style. Way off with lots of vibrato and it. is. so. funny. It's mostly hilarious that all us sisters try so hard to stay serious. But then one of looks at another, kind of smile a little and one by one we all have to back out of the circle cuz we are trying to hold in a laugh. We are laughing SO hard eventually. This time, I was on the floor laughing somewhere, the other sisters had to take a seat but Sister C couldn't move. Her legs were in the most awkward position and she's yelling "I can't make it to the bathroom! We killed those poor elders self-esteem and I feel bad. When we sang it for sacrament meeting these elders in our zone started giggling and I was gonna come beat them up after wards cuz only WE can laugh at our elders. We did a decent job in sacrament meeting and I almost started crying cuz I love them.
-I became the coolest sister in the zone when I showed up with donuts to eat after class that Sister Pew gave me. Haha! It was awesome!
We had lots more meetings and classes of saying goodbyes, a wonderful temple walk, and meetings where Brother Bilbro talked about dad the whole time again :) The devotional on Sunday of course was amazing. Singing in the MTC is a once in a lifetime experience that I so crave right now. Me and Sister Collette really let go and just scrrreamed those songs! It was SO fun cuz it's so loud nobody knows who exactly is screaming :)
When we said goodbye to the elders, I surprisingly didn't cry! At the last moments together our weirdest selves came out. I found myself singing "Part of your World" in that nasty voice I do and Elder Berry became Gloria Jenkins, his middle-aged, chain smoker self. The elders walked us to our rooms, shook all of our hands and we all yelled goodbye down the sidewalk till we got inside. The sisters won with the last goodbye.

Going to New York:
-Woke up at 2 AM. Awful. I'll send you a picture when it gets sent to me of how I slept on the front runner. You'd be embarrassed but it was comfy. Haha
-That phone call from the airport was torture!!! There was a girl sobbing next to me and I could tell you guys were crying :) Don't do that! Haha! I loved it though. I'm so sorry that I didn't call from Detroit. I gave away my passalong card but it was just at Salt Lake to another member my age who asked for one so it's kind of cheating.
-I slept like 40 minutes maybe on those flights. Awful.
-President and Sister Wirthlin are the cutest!!! We went to Gino & Joes Pizza and played two truths and a lie, just like I already knew we would. We got to sleep in their house. Super super fancy and beautiful!

-I still didn't get a lot of sleep. I wasn't nervous, but I was just sick and super exhausted. This was an awful day. We went through a lot of "trainings" that I really can't remember cuz I was practically sleeping and then.... we got our companions.
This is where Gas comes in :)
 It was just me, Sister Collette and another Sister left when President said that they have kind of a unique situation for this area. I immediately knew it was me. I put my bag over my shoulder and got ready to stand. This area is not in New York. It's the only area outside of it. This area is Bennington Vermont. Then he called "Sister Hallsted". Everyone cheers, we have to give our companions a hug and get a picture together. I was the only one who gave my old companion a hug before we left our row. That's cuz nobody loves there companion as much as I love Sister Collette.
That day was really rough. Saying goodbye to Sister Collette, Sister Seader and Sister Sigleer was super super hard. I'm actually starting to cry just writing about it.
Gosh, I'm awful at writing emails cuz I have to go.

But the drive to Bennington was rough. I couldn't sleep and Sister Gass didn't talk. But I understand her so much more now and we are getting closer and closer everyday!! I've learned so much already. She's only been out for three months and I know she was super terrified to be a trainer. I'm hoping that I've made it easy on her so far!
Things about Bennington:
-This place is like Halloweentown. The leaves on the ground are GORGEOUS, Halloween was SO adorable, 
-It seems to be a requirement for everyone to own like three cats and a dog or two. It is going to be no problem dealing with Schofield after this!

Well, I'll write better next time, I just had SO much catching up to do! I already am starting to love the people despite a lot of things and I need to tell you about Sunday next time! I am now a big believer in the magic of Sundays. If you can make it to Sunday, everything will be okay.
I love you all SO much and I've loved seeing the support from everyone on facebook! It is soooo fun :)
Sure love ya mommy, daddy, Ammon, Amanda, Derek, Breton, Haley, Hannah, Hyguy, Phoebe, Schofield, and especially baby Deriqua-Qwinaenae.
Sure love ya,
Sister Brynnie Halls