Monday, February 23, 2015

Bennington, VT #17 "Sister Snowplow"


This week has been nuts! I grow so SO much when I have to get out of my comfortable little Bennington... and we were only in Bennington for Wednesday night and Sunday! So lots of growing happened :) We don't have much time again this week because today our district and zone leaders played volleyball and signs. As much fun as it was, hanging out with people still just exhausts me... so let's see how much I can remember about this crazy week.

Monday: TEMPLE TRIP!!! I was so freaking out about my hair... I don't even want to talk about it, but after emails it dried and we saw that the top was like purple/pinkish and the bottom was brown. Oh boy. We met up with the Toga Zone leaders and right when Elder Child sees my hair he says "Sister Hallsted! What happened?!" I've struggled my whole mission to have charity for Elder Child. Which is rough cuz we have to work with them so much! Haha! After we got rid of him and got the other elder going on the temple trip, the drive was amazing! Brother B was sending us Mormon trivia questions the whole time so it was fun showing him that he'll never stump us.

Being with the Utica sisters was the weirdest thing ever. They just adored me. They kept talking about my "calming energy" and would thank God for my grace in every prayer. Haha! So weird, but I guess my low voice was just what they needed. They're super spirit of the law and I didn't like the way they changed things up at all. It was cool to see that the Preach My Gospel way of doing things on a mission is always always better. But it was a miracle that I went to them the day after getting my hair dyed because one of them is a cosmetologist! The second I got in the car, she said we're going to the hair place and fixing my hair during lunch tomorrow. Haha! Tender mercy! The other sister kept saying "You are the most patient person I know... I would be crying right now if I were you!" Hahaha! Everyone's comments that are supposed to be comforting all week were so opposite. But it was funny. My hair looks much much better now! It's still red on top and brown on the bottom but Jessie Finnegan said yesterday that it looks like a "hipster melt". Better than what it was!

Wednesday: We worked Bennington as hard as we could! Showed me that we really can have 15 minutes lessons and invite the Spirit! Behunins that night was amazing. Chad and Marybeth came and so did Jessica and her crazy boys. Brother B felt inspired to invite Chad and MB and I think it did wonders for them!

Thursday, Glens Falls exchange: Everyone knows the Glens Falls sisters as the sisters who know how to have fun!!! I just didn't realize that they don't work while they do it... The Glens Falls sisters are struggling so badly that President is having us blitz their area this Thursday. I believe in miracles more than ever (especially when you're being exactly obedient), so I'm actually super excited to show those sisters that some miracles can happen there.      
By the way, Glens Falls is the ward that Jimmer's family is in. They talk about Brother Fredett all the time and I'm gonna get a signed poster on Thursday :) woot woot.

At one point of this exchange I got kind of sad because it's really bad in Glens Falls because they're being super disobedient. I called Charlann for our phone lesson during their third go at weekly planning and basically Charlann just is amazing. I learn from her daily. Charlann's whole life theme now is "Would I be doing that in heaven?" I LOVE that and will keep it with me forever. I wish I could tell you the whole conversation. I took notes.

Three crazy things happened while I was there... Sister Kastigar lives in our old stake in AZ. Her sister went to Ammon's mission at the same time as him, then came back and married a Zuniga boy! She knows Brandt and Michelle and can remember what our old house looks like! Then, she also realized that her ex-boyfriend was Timo's old companion Elder Nebeker. So I may have made her ex-boyfriend a tie once. It ended up being a huge distraction to have figured that one out, but it was still awesome.
We went to a member's house for dinner the first night and I was looking at a picture of the Timp temple and said "That's my temple!" They asked me where I was from their mom ran in the room. She looked at me and was like, "Oh my gosh... I know you!!!" Apparently they just moved out of our stake about a year ago! Sister Hoffman recognized me from Girls Camp! It was crazy seeing parts of home in their family pictures. They ended up giving me that picture of the Timpanogus temple, carved in stone (I'm holding it in the picture). Haha It was random to come back from exchanges with a big stone. The Mormon world is so small.
Then, we got in the car after dinner at the Hoffman's from Cedar Hills and I saw a text from Brother Behunin..... I immediately started freaking out because..... he said that Dylan's mom randomly called and changed her mind. Dylan can be baptized when he wants!!!!!! They've been waiting for 8 years for this and I get to be the one who gets to finally see him be baptized! This is what Brother B had been fasting every other day for and me every week. It seemed totally hopeless after a while, but God softened her heart! I still cannot really even believe it. Greatest miracle of my whole mission so far. He could be baptized this Saturday, but they think it's too soon to throw together. Sister Gochnour's so sad and so am I because this transfer has seemed beyond perfect, especially with the progress Dylan has made.. it would be a perfect way to end he mission. But the miracle of him being able to be baptized on March 14th is enough!!! I have no doubt that next transfer is going to be filled with tons of miracles like this too.

Sunday: We had our Sacrament meeting in the primary room because the heating doesn't work anywhere else! And all the speakers didn't show up, but luckily people volunteered. Then we had our gospel principles class in the mothers lounge. #thebranchlyfe :)  Haha! So fun all being squished in there for warmth. We had an awesome lesson with Chad and MB. MB gave me a tissue at the beginning because she can tell I'm kind of sick and then I got a huge bloody nose. Michiko was terrified because I guess she's never seen a bloody nose before. "Get her a bandaid!!" Hahaha Somehow the Spirit still managed to be there through all the blood :)

Sister Gochnour and I missed each other way too much on exchanges. We're now trying to let her get more excited about going home. You'd think she has another year left in Bennington with the way she still puts her whole heart into everything here. I feel like I don't talk about her a ton because things are going so well! She told me the other day that I have been her favorite companion, which is huge to me because she has had all the most popular, powerful sisters in the mission... and because I love her. She's almost convinced me to go to BYU-I. She's most excited to go home just so she can hang out with you guys! Go on a date with Breton (he's become famous in the NYUM), set up Hannah and her brother, make Herm and her other brother best buds and babysit Q all the time :) I'm excited for her! It's hard, but kind of fun to watch an amazing missionary like her be so focused on remaining a disciple of Christ for the rest of her life. I am going to miss her and Elder Arbuckle more than I can describe because they're probably my best friends so far in my mission. Man, I loooove being a missionary because of the other amazing missionaries I've met that have changed my life forever.
I get to find out what's happening in Bennington this Saturday. I am SO nervous. I've talked to President Wirthlin lots lately and I told him that training sounds so fun, but Bennington might need an older sister again who really knows how to work with members because that's something it needs and I don't know how.

Thanks for everything! I love you all tons.
Sister H

"Sister Hallsted, I feel like you and Eve flipped a coin in heaven to see who would be the mother of all living." -Elder Arbuckle
"Does Elder Child even poop?!" -Sister Kastigar
"The temple was like... a spiritual spa." -Sister Thompson in G.F.
"Do you bear your testimony with that mouth?" -Sister Kastigar
"I've got faith out the wazoo." -Me
"I'm gonna call Prophet Munson and tell him to keep you here a little longer." -Charlann :)
"You missed the sign cuz you were too busy talkin' stupid!" -Me (... accidentally being mean to Elder Child)

1. Sister Gochnour, North, Kastigar and Me
2. Sweet little Elder Kelly with all the girls
3. A super weird picture of us doing service in a cute little library.
4. The Hoffman family from our stake!

(Also, Sister Snowplow because that's what Sister Kastigar called me because I have to blow my nose so obnoxiously right now... I guess I sound like a snowplow :)

Sister Gochnour, North, Kastigar and Me

Sweet little Elder Kelly with all the girls
The Hoffman family from our stake!

A super weird picture of us doing service in a cute little library.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bennington, VT #16 "Ginger"

Dearest Family,

I died my hair red again.... like 10 minutes ago. Some lady was needing to give a free haircut and color.. I didn't exactly realize that she was brand new and didn't know what she was doing! We're going to Utica tonight, I'm sleeping with the Utica sisters and then sleeping in the mission home with the departing missionaries. So I have to see President tonight with my flaming head of hair. Sweet.
Anyway, this was a good week! We more than survived Zone Training Meeting on Thursday and then we finished it off wonderfully with Leah's baptism on Sunday!!!

We don't have much time today, because we have to travel so much lately. I'm also sorry that I have been so bad at updating you guys on my investigators and such. Maybe next time!

Thursday we had ZTM and had to wake up suuuper early which was good cuz someone doorbell ditched us at 5:30 am. I was SO nervous the night before- I was shaking ridiculously and it hadn't even come yet! But, just as I knew would happen, the Spirit completely took over me and Sister G and the whole training. We had 3 people share their thoughts as we read the story of the Atonement from the bible and we were completely inspired to choose who we did. You saw on FB Sister Kastigar's poem about the Garden of Gethsemane. Amazing. And sweet little Elder Kelly sang a song. The last was the new elder from Russia (the one who said I should get dreads) and he was just amazing since he's a recent convert himself. We ended it with playing Savior, Redeemer of my Soul by that group that Scott Shattuck's in (can't remember the name right now) and played a slide show with the words and pics of Christ. Dude, it was amazing and I love that it wasn't amazing because of us at all. The whole training was fantastic. We ended the night going to the Behunin's. We had a super spiritual lesson and basically did our training with them and then took model/gangster pics forever :)

Valentine's day: I got more love than I did on Christmas! Thank you thank you thank you guys for the packages!! I have the greatest friends and family ever. We went around and heart attacked people's doors until the snow got so bad that we couldn't drive anymore. We were both just bursting with love! Everyone loved it. They sent out a text again saying we needed to be inside unless we had set appointments so we ended the night going out to eat with Jess because she was the only one of her friends not going to 50 Shades of Gray. CTR... We were so proud!

Leah's baptism was beyond incredible!!!! I wish I had more time to tell you! It was after church (Pres. Finnegan asked us if we could do it then) but still not a lot of people came- Church would have been cancelled if the baptism wasn't that day. I'm so glad no one crashed in the snow storm! We ran around preparing stuff instead of going to class and made Brother B teach our Gospel Principles lesson at the last second. He's the best :) We didn't clean out the font enough before we turned on the water so I had to roll up my leggings and walk around getting the spiders out. It was so fun!! The little girls in the branch were SO adorable. They treated Leah like she was getting married. When she put on the white dress, they were ecstatic. Seeing Leah get baptized was so special for me. It was how I imagine I would have felt if I was there for Gwen's baptism. She is just my best little buddy. I am SO glad I got to see her make that step. Seeing Brother B baptize her was so sweet too. He got so emotional after he said her name because he's somewhat raised her. All the Johnson kids have different dad's but don't get to see them much, so Brother B has kind of been their father. Our investigator Chad was crying and later said he had chills the whole time. Everything was perfect and so many of our investigators were able to come and feel the Spirit that was there. Maybe the greatest, sweetest day of my mission.

I am SO glad that President gave me permission to call home this week too. He is the sweetest and we had a wonderful interview. I was so worried about dad. It completely changed my week to actually hear what was going on! Our sweet sisters that we're over are all praying for dad. I love them :)

I am LOVING being a missionary these days! I am so So SO grateful to be sharing the feelings from the Spirit with my wonderful companion and the people of Bennington. They teach me so much every day.

Love, Sister Hallsted

1. Brother B always gives me a piece of dessert this big! and I always eat it all :)
2. Heart Attacking
3. Leah's baptism
4. At MLC. 


Monday, February 9, 2015

Bennington, VT #15 "#stayactive"

Dearest Family!
So, at MLC (mission leadership conference) this week, President Wirthlin was being adorable. He was teasing our Saratoga Zone Leader, Elder Arbuckle, like crazy. He made him a ginorrrmous pancake and piled on eggs and sausage for breakfast and had everyone come to our table and cheer "Do it, do it, do it!" while he video taped it. President Wirthlin always keeps a straight face so you can never tell when he's joking around. Then, after MLC, he came up to Elder Arbuckle, stared at him and said, "Stay active." It was hilarious because this elder's kind of a punk :) Now every text the Zone Leaders send say #stayactive at the end. I LOVE President Wirthlin. I'm going to be so sad when he leaves. I asked him if I could go on the temple trip with Sister Gochnour this week... he said no :) I tried. We've moved exchanges to next week because of the snow. That means we're going to be gone from Monday to Saturday. Poor Bennington. Charlann's gonna die when she hears because she can't go "sisterless" for a day. Haha
This week was really so good! SO much better. Thank you thank you thank you all for your prayers. I have been having a really rough time honestly and I was scared I was stuck that way forever. But I got unstuck and am now happy again. All it took was a week full of Charlann, Behunins, MLC, the Behunins again and a lot of positive thoughts instead of negative :)

The MLC drive was pretty fun. It was just us and the zone leaders so it was kind of awkward. We do this thing called MLC drive topics and the best one was "When is Brynn Hallsted going to go dredhead?" Hahaha! My hair is sooo nasty here and people all the time tell me it looks like dreds... thank you guys. Me, Elder Arbuckle and Amanda (I said you'd do it, Manda) are gonna get dreds together April 2016. Party. Brother Behunin called us and I talked to him on the phone for like 15 minutes when we stopped to get dinner. He's just my best friend ever. Best part of my day.

I met so many new missionaries at MLC that I loved!!! It was weird to not be like the youngest one there this time. The actual conference part of it was kind of a struggle this time for some reason. We stopped for dinner with some elders at this nasty-sauce diner. There was this Elder who just came from the Russian mission last week and the first thing he said when he saw me was that I should get dreds. Yesss.

Best part of the whole week was Saturday!!! Danielle Behunin came with us all day long. We went to one of our investigators Brianna's basketball game (it was funny cuz I wasn't wearing my glasses so I couldn't see if she was playing the whole time), then got pizza, then cleaned Charlann's kitchen! oh my gosh, guys. You will NOT believe how disgusting it was. The best thing we found was a used thing of toilet paper with a wishbone stuck to it! Danielle has pictures that I'll send next week. She was dying laughing the whole time! I was doing dishes for two hours because I actually like doing dishes! Cat food everywhere. Charlann was so happy, she was crying. I enjoyed it because I love her to death. We have before and after pics! We finished that amazing day with randomly eating dinner at Chili's with Brother B, Dylan and Danielle. AHHH. SO fun. I went home and just was crying because I love them so so much (I'm so emotional now).

This week has been so much better than the past two weeks have been. Being more positive about all of this snow has done me wonders. Even though the snow was just as awful, we were positive and worked hard. We also moved exchanges to next week because of the snow!
We had kind of a cool experience this week while preparing for our part of zone training meeting. We made a slideshow at one of our investigators houses, Chad and Marybeth. We have slides of pictures of Christ and the words to the song Savior, Redeemer of my Soul. My favorite song ever. We played the song and showed them the slideshow after it was done and they both had tears in their eyes. The Spirit was SO strong, guys! We then read from the Book of Mormon and it was just a really powerful lesson.

After MLC, Sister Gochnour and I decided to read the Book of Mormon by the end of her mission. It has been SO amazing already! I had kind of forgotten how it felt to be reading the Book of Mormon so constantly, quickly and simply like I used to. It has helped me to be even more full of gratitude towards Heavenly Father. I don't know how my life would be without that book. I absolutely love the power that it has to pull me back onto this line with Heavenly Father and bring me so much closer to Him, which is really all that I want these days. Heavenward.
I surrre love all you guys so much and am SO thankful for the prayers I have felt from you all. Much needed. Thank you!
Sister Brynnie Hallsted

"Sister H, your ears are falling out of your head!" -Michiko
"You're going to have to marry someone with a really high energy level." -Brother Behunin (he thinks I'm exhausting :)
"Stay Active." -President Wirthlin
"I want the world to end in a rapostasy... meet me at the mall!" -Elder Arbuckle
"Sisters, you can just round down to the nearest hundred." -Elder Kelly (as we all went around and told our weight at District Meeting haha)
"We went from prophets to Aunt Jean!" -Sister Campbell-Copp (in her british accent)
"And we pray for the poor guy that got bitten by the ground hog!" -Charlann
"Can't I see you for 2 more hours??... Well, I can see you for more than 2 hours in heaven." -Charlann

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bennington, VT #14 "Snowed In"


First off, I had a small meltdown during comp study this week because I felt so bad for saying the a-word in my email this week... so I apologize :) So our p-day has actually been moved to tomorrow (nope- we just got a call from the District leader saying that district meeting is pushed to tomorrow because of the dumb snow... no more p-day) because of the snow!! I want to beat up all snow everywhere... It is insane here right now. Today is the third day they've cancelled school in the past week. We're not allowed to drive in the snow (or even if there's snow on the ground, but that's just silly), but Sister Gochnour really wanted to email so, yeah, we risked our lives to get here. It's really taken a toll on the work though... everyone's just going crazy.
I could end the email there because nothing really happened this week that I want to say, but we all know I'm going to say that and then write an obnoxiously long email still :)

It has been really hard for me to zoom out and refocus this week... maybe because these people's problems seem bigger than even eternity.. I know they're not. They're just so hard for me to handle for some reason. I don't feel like a missionary, I feel like a family member. I love that about little Bennington. I wish I had more power to help my family here...

So, with all the storms that have hit us, it's easy to stay inside and find things to do. It has caused my good ol' anxiety to come back that I would feel at home when I wasn't busy all the time and I hate it. It is SUCH a pain to walk in the snow for miles. Takes us forever. I'm very grateful for my big boots though. We made a mini version of my blessings list from home! We're trying to be more positive :) I think it was Sister Pew who gave me a little paper to put on my wall that says "Interrupt anxiety with gratitude". SO needed and it SO works!

We didn't get to have that baptism this Saturday for Jacen and Sean because their dad wouldn't ever sign for them. He is completely abusive and it's really hard to not be able to do anything except support their mom and strengthen her testimony.

Leah is getting baptized on Valentines day (maybe actually Sunday now). She's adorable and we're really trying to get her to get excited for her future as a member. We're having the YW sing with us at her baptism :)

So, Dylan Behunin had called us and said he was done with his catholic classes by the end of February!!! We were freaking out so excited!!! We love him so SO much and would Brother B says that out of all the sisters, we're the ones that deserve to be here for it. And then, on Sunday, Dylan talked to his mom... she said she doesn't care if he's done with the classes. He doesn't get confirmed until April 26th and he can't be baptized until he's confirmed catholic :( I was so so so sad. But, as always, Brother Behunin made it a little better and said to not give up hope. He's fasting every other day for him. He's crazy!! I'm fasting Horchata every other day since i've gone through about a liter a day ;) Nah, but I will fast weekly. But I need to have more faith...

I absolutely adore being a missionary. This week I've been a little amazed at how simple and beautiful missionary life is. Thank you all for all you do for me! I so appreciate all of your prayers for me!
Sister Brynnie Hallsted