Monday, January 12, 2015

Bennington, VT #11: TOGA TOGA TOGA

Dearest Family,
This week has been super crazy, but I have grown TONS! This subject line is what we chant with the Zone Leaders. Our zone is the first Saratoga Zone that's ever been created so the ZLs call us the "Toga Originals". They're super silly, but we're all really proud of it.

FIRST EXCHANGES AS A STL!!! We packed them all in one week because they couldn't fit anywhere else and we will never ever do that again. Me and Sister Gochnour missed each other terribly and we were just exhausted by the end.

Glens Falls exchanges started Tuesday with SISTER NORTH! When we met, she was crying because she didn't want to go..... That made me kind of nervous, but I was still pretty sure she'd love it and she did!! We basically had just too much fun and saw some "mircles mircles" with OYMing which was cool for her.

We exchanged back at Zone Training Meeting on Wednesday. We decided I'd better not drive all the way to Saratoga because of the stress it caused me just on exchanges just around Bennington. Haha! I'm scared to see my Senior companion days. This ZTM was beyond incredible, guys. It seemed to be a turning point for SO many in our zone. It was about the role of the Spirit in conversion, but seriously everyone got out of it something totally different.. exactly what they were needing. The Spirit was SO strong and you could feel that each missionary was overcome with their own spiritual experiences. 

Sister Gochnour and I gave a small portion of the training. We all went around to each room and talked about how each part of growing up in the church has played a role in our conversion. I did primary. I couldn't tell if I was more nervous or just really overcome with the Spirit. I basically abandoned my plans for what I was going to say at the last second and I was pretty emotional. I am soooo grateful for all of the things that my wonderful primary kiddos taught me when I was their teacher. I had dreams about them a few times this week :) What the Spirit wanted me to learn the most from ZTM was that Christ doesn't need a flawless, stylish, beautiful sister in Bennington, He needs a disciple. And He needs me to be that for Him forever. Lately I've been wondering why missionary work doesn't feel as foreign as I thought it would and I think I've realized that missionary work is truly no different than being the members we're supposed to be. We all promised to represent Jesus Christ all the time when we were baptized and each week we make that same covenant during the sacrament. 

And with Sister Gochnour leaving next transfer, I've thought about when I come home and what I want to be like. We like to say that missionaries shouldn't ever need to "adjust" back to normal life. Others should be adjusting to missionary life. Man, if every future missionary, especially, made a conscious effort to always represent Christ, there would really only be the physical adjustment to a missionary's life necessary.

During our interviews with President Wirthlin, he told us both that we were staying and that I should be ready to train after this transfer with Sister Gochnour (ahhhhhh!). He's just too cute not to tell us where we're all going, but I'm still nervous for Transfer Calls this Saturday because you never know what will happen. That would be the dream transfer for me and training the next would be a super awesome, stressful growing experience!

We exchanged with the Saratoga sisters after that and they are just super solid. I was with Sister Mason here in Bennington again and probably the greatest thing was just praising her. I think she's amazing and I let her know what everyone else says about her. She's felt really inadequate and now... I hope I didn't make her prideful :) We had a super powerful lesson with Chad and MB where, for the first time ever, we both felt prompted to boldly ask them when they're planning on getting married so they can get baptized already. They can't do it financially, but it's sooo close! I told them I have to be here to practice my wedding planning skills. So hopefully Chad will find a job soon!

The next exchange was with Albany. This was SOOO crazy. I went to Albany with Sister Thao. Downtown Albany (love it cuz it sounds like Downton Abbey) was basically terrifying that first night! Hahaha There were absolutely no white people and it basically just looked like a smaller Manhattan. Made me miss New York City pretty badly. So, these sisters just barely switched with the elders because a sex offender had just gotten out of prison and moved into their old apartment. The police came and told them and President said they had to move. So, they've just white washed for the second time in one transfer! The elders left them no investigators too... We tried really hard to find one, but it didn't happen. Got some potentials though!

I had a dream that night in Albany about a way to do OMYing. I am loving my dreams lately!!! So, we tried it the next morning and it was just awesome!! At the end of the exchange I decided I want to be in Albany sooo badly someday. 

For the OMYing opportunities and the amazing, adorable people I met! Here are some of the names on their board so you can get an idea: Gala Fobbs, Tirrell (met him. sups cool.), Dushon, Norboto Rivera, Janero, Thakyi Kyaw, Sayblu (my favorite), Arabia, Rhamati and the Yarleque Family. I can't even describe how much of a culture shock it was to be there in Albany, but I fell in love with it so fast. It's ghetto enough that Sister Thao almost had me convinced that President made them wear bullet proof vest when they walk in this one area. I wish I had time to explain all of our adventures in Albany and the drive there and back with this senior couple that may or may not want to kill us right now... We left our cell phones in the other person's car both times we exchanged and the Senior couple had to drive all over to try to catch us... it was so so bad and Sister Gochnour was stressed out of her mind. I thought it was hilarious! We gave them cake... so it was okay :)

All of our exchanges got pretty shafted just because we're sooo far away from everyone. But we made the most of it and used driving time for all of the interviews, except Albany's. Apparently Vermont is really different than New York, but I won't believe it till I see it :)

Sorry this is sooo long! I am loving being a missionary, especially this week with exchanges!!! Thank you everyone for all you have done for me, especially the help I've received to get me on this mission!

Love you all,

Sister Brynn Hallsted

  1. Me and Sister G being super cold :)
  2. With Sister North at ZTM! (Cute little Elder Kelly being held up by our District Leader, Elder Holt in the background)
  3. Super fun picture of me and Sister North
  4. eating pizza just like being in NYC!
  5. Posing on a random gross couch in Albany.
  6. I freaking love Sister Thao
  7. On the bus in Albany.
  8. Definition of Sister Thao. Her desk :)

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