Monday, December 28, 2015

Oswego #23 “Post-Christmas Depression”

Talking to Brynn Christmas Day - 1st at the hospital where Haley was working and then Skyping that evening

(Brynn drew this for Christmas)

Tree you sent! Love it! (we made ornaments w/ our faces on/in them)

Me with Brianna, Evee and her baby. We met up at this sick coffee shop like I basically want to live in. (not like you even know who these people are... returning less actives. Bre is how we met Tyler, our most progressing investigator)

We love Christmas the most (competition w the Elders - Obviously the sisters won)

Super embarrassing nativity pictures. Don't send these out! Lol! Creeeepy Joseph :) (Right Brynn. I won't sent these out :))


And, angry about star wars :)

Brynnington! Basically my favorite place to work ever.

Also, we made homemade potstickers on Saturday night since we couldn't do it Christmas eve. Keeping the tradition. They were super easy!

Me with my favorite lady at the nursing home. Doris. 60 degree weather on Christmas eve!

Came home after a super rough night of walking in the rain and saw that our ward mission leader, Brother Murphy and his family had wrapped our door and left us encouraging notes!!! SO cute! Sister Saunders started crying.

Delivering Cookies!

Hello family!

First off, I just want to thank the fetch out of all of my beautiful family for your love and SUPPORT! Your emails today have been stellar. Yes, I cried. I suuuuure love ya!

So, Christmas was great. You'll probably have to steal things from Sister Saunders email again this week cuz I'm out of time! But the work is actually extremely slow right now. I have complete faith that it will pick up after the holidays! We're working our butts off and we're currently OUT of miles so we're walking just about everywhere and getting rides to Fulton lol. Sad news, Ben is in JAIL :( agency, man. He needs to work on how to use it better. We're working on finding people who will make it past the point of the Word of Wisdom lesson. Pretty much everyone avoids us after that. We need to find people who aren't on drugs or selling them. That would be nice.

But the Lord saw our struggles from this week and truly blessed us last night! We serve at the soup kitchen at the Salvation Army once a week and we've found a lot of new investigators from it. A couple weeks ago, there was a new volunteer named Robert. We talked to him a lot. He knows a lot about religion and asked us questions about our church. We talked about the history of Oswego and how we love the old homes here. He said he just moved into one of the beautiful, huge old homes this year. He told us to "work the street" he lives on so we could see some of the houses. We hoped to "accidentally" run into his home, of course :) We talked to him a little more about our missionary service and answered his questions about prophets. Last night, it was late and some appointments fell through. As a back up to our back up, we decided to try tracting what we thought may be Robert's street. It was cold and late and we were having no success in this extremely wealthy part of town. I suggested to Sister Saunders that we try somewhere else and just ask Robert on Wednesday what his exact address was. It was cold and everyone's rich and mean and they're all in Florida for the winter anyways. I was just being such a butthead! But Sister Saunders said, "Let's just try that house with the Christmas lights and then we can be done." I was sure that it wasn't him because he told me he hadn't put up any decorations for Christmas, but I thought maybe Sister Saunders could feel something from the Spirit that I couldn't. As we walked up to the door, we saw a man through the window that looked like Robert! We were so so excited, but as we waited for someone to answer the door, we only heard what we thought was someone looking through the peephole and locking the door. People often do that. We were so sad, but as we went to "card them", I realized we had just used our last card with our number already written on it. We stood there for a quite a few minutes finding a card and writing on it. As we did, the door quickly opened. It was Robert! He was so happy to see us and invited us right in to meet his family and eat dinner with them. He told us his daughter looked through the door and told him it was just two people. He ignored it, but after a few minutes he felt that he should ask if it was two young women who were there. She said yes and he quickly came to see if we were still there! If we still had a card ready, we would have definitely been gone by that time! We had an amazing time with them. He practically taught US about the Restoration from what he's read and he understood it perfectly. We left them with the Book of Mormon. His college-aged daughter really loves us and already knows lots about Mormons from a youtube channel she watches. So cool! It was such a miracle that really helped Sister Saunders last night to know that she IS a wonderful missionary that the Lord does work through! If it wasn't for her, we would not have found Robert last night! I hope she can fully recognize that. I realized I often admire and am just amazed by things she does, but I don't vocalize it. I definitely have started doing more.

(Stolen from companions email)
We also had a strange experience. We were out street contacting on Saturday when this guy, John, came up to us and said "Mormon missionaries! I just love Mormon missionaries." I got super excited when he said that, so of course we started talking. Then he started listing all of the sisters he had met with over the course of 10 years. There were a LOT and he remembered all of their names. At this point, Sister Hallsted and I were a little bit concerned. Nevertheless, we are missionaries and if someone talks to us we'll try to teach them, so we asked if we could get his address and come by sometime. He said that we'd have to talk to Brother Rowley- a ward member- first and if he said it was okay, then to come by. (Brother Rowley had been the bishop when John first started meeting with missionaries). That was when Sister Hallsted and I got super creeped out. He asked if we would pray with him before he continued walking, and we agreed, but he said that the sisters in the past would always "share" prayers with him. One sister would start the prayer, the next sister would say the middle of the prayer, and then he would close the prayer. We didn't know what to do so we just prayed with him like that and then walked away. We're having dinner at the Rowley's house tonight, so we'll be sure to ask them about John. Regardless of what they say, both of us just got a strange feeling when we were around him and we don't think we'll be teaching him anytime soon. We'll be safe. We have the Spirit to be with us. :)

On Christmas Eve we went to the home of a member family from Puerto Rico! It wasn't traditional Christmas Eve dinner, but it was delicious. :) After that we played some games and sang some Christmas carols and then we had to go home. Sister Hallsted and I wanted to bring in the full spirit of Christmas, though, so we decided to have a nativity. Just us. Hopefully I can send a picture! We were DYING of laughter the whole time. It was absolutely hilarious! The nativity was wonderful, though. We also read Luke 2 together, and it really helped it feel like home. The next morning before we opened our presents, Sister Hallsted said she felt like we should say a prayer first, so we did. Has anybody ever prayed before opening their gifts? I thought not. But we did! I bet that Heavenly Father was just shaking his head and laughing. He's got to love us. :)

Earlier this week we also found this incredible lady named Patty! We had knocked on her door a couple of weeks ago and she told us to come back, so we did. It was amazing! We walked in and both Sister Hallsted and I felt the Spirit so strongly. She LOVES her cat, and it recently died, so she's been going through a really rough time. She actually said during the lesson that she's been praying a lot and thought that maybe God had sent us to her in her time of need. We took by some cookies on Christmas and she said that she's been reading the Book of Mormon and wants to know more! We were so excited! We're seeing her tonight and we're super excited. She really wants to learn. We're teaching her about the Plan of Salvation, because her dad passed away a couple of years ago and we think she'll just love that. Can you imagine how that would feel? Imagine that you didn't know you could be with your family for eternity and then a close family member passes away. You would be devastated! And now she gets to learn that families can be together forever. Oh, I'm so excited to teach her!

Basically, being a missionary is the best and Oswego is going to see miracles in this new year! I know it :)

Well, I love you all. It was so great to talk to you on Christmas!

Sister Brynnie Hallsted

Monday, December 21, 2015

Oswego #22 "All I want for Christmas is U-tica!"

Andora got baptized! Isn't she beautiful?
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Sister Saunders makes me do weird stuff like put avocado mixed with egg in my hair... I trust her a lot.
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Snow storm hair :)
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I totally made a fake fireplace this week. Does this surprise you at all?
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Hid in St. Mary's for shelter from the snow. Reminded me of NYC and made me miss my mom a lot!
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For Chrsitmas Pres and Sister Rogers gave us all these recommend holders! I LOVE them. 
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Elder Ayre, me and Sister Hale after the mission conference. I love these two!!!
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Me Fulton besties. I miss them SO much.
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Me, Sister Saunders, and Elder Patterson.
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Love love love lighthouses now.
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Sister Saunders rocking the violin at the talent show.
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The elders dancing. This is a snipit of the elders doing the "All I want for Christmas is U... tica" :) 
Elder Ayre, Patterson and Corbin were in it! 
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Me and Sister Gass.
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Saratoga North district reunion! Missing the most important people though :(
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Me and Elder Britton!
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(only photos but no email from Brynn but this is her companions email!)
Happy Monday everybody! You know how most people hate Mondays? I've figured out a solution to that problem. Become a missionary. Seriously. Mondays are great! :)

This week was... interesting. It had some really great moments and some really hard ones. I'll start with the hard because life should end on a good note, so emails should as well. :)

There's an townhome complex in our area called Hamilton Homes. We love working there because the houses are right next to each other. Missionary heaven, right? Anyway, our Mission President encourages us to be out every night from 6 to 9, actively teaching and finding. On Sunday night of last week we didn't really have any appointments, so we just tracted Hamilton Homes. We ended up getting 6 set appointments for Tuesday afternoon, so we were super excited! Unfortunately, every single appointment fell through. Tuesday was probably one of the worst days of the transfer. We knocked on one lady's door, and she had been super excited on Sunday and wanted us to come back, but on Tuesday she opened the door and said "You know what, girls? I am NOT interested in what you have to say," and she slammed the door on us. We started to walk away, and then she opened the door and came out on her porch and started yelling at us! We chose to just walk away and get in our car. We were pretty discouraged. But it's all good because then we went home and we had Christmas packages! They were amazing! (Thanks mom :) Tuesday did end up ending well, though, so that's good.

We had a Mission Conference on Thursday, which will explain the subject of this email. Of course we had President and Sister Rogers speak. I just love them both so much! I honestly wouldn't be surprised if President Rogers became an Apostle some day. Elder Bennett, of the Seventy, came to our mission in October and straightened things out and told everyone at the end that President Rogers was the best Mission President in the world. Sister Hallsted and I sent him a Christmas card. :) So anyway, after they spoke we had lunch and then a talent show. A bunch of Elders got up and sang "All I want for Christmas" but they changed the words, which is why "is Utica" is added up top. It was hilarious! Some of the Elders in my mission are absolutely wonderful. We had some other talents, and I played my violin. I'm kind of famous in the West side of the Mission because everyone has seen the video with Lexi Walker and my orchestra. They've seen my name in the credits, so they assume I'm famous. Sister Hallsted has the most AMAZING voice, so she's pretty famous throughout the mission as well. She recorded some songs before her mission and everyone has the copy of her singing "How Great Thou Art". I'm pretty lucky to be her companion. :) So anyway, our Zone Leaders actually asked us both for our autographs. I can honestly say I didn't think that would ever happen on my mission.

Our Christmas plans are great! I emailed out a picture of a corner in our apartment with our Christmas Tree and a fake fireplace. We made that fireplace so we could hang our stockings. :)

Also to explain why I'm vacuuming a closet in one of the pictures- we have bedbugs in some apartments in our mission, so they sent out a text telling us to do some cleaning to prevent them. I REALLY don't want bedbugs, so I vacuumed every closet out, put everything on the floor in plastic bags, and swept out the corners. I also swept the couch because our vacuum nozzle doesn't work. So our apartment is super clean. Sister Hallsted said it feels naked. I like it. :)

All in all, this week was adventurous! We definitely had hard times, but great ones as well. I just love all of you and hope you have an amazing Christmas! Remember Christ is the reason!

Merry Christmas!

Sister Saunders

Monday, December 14, 2015

Oswego #21 #oswego4lyf

I think Elder Britton taught me that that is the gangster way to spell 'life'... good thing he's being transferred to the Syracuse zone with me so I can be around gangsters once more! I'm suuuuper excited about it :)
I really don't know how this email is going to go because once again, it was a no-sleep-Monday. Ugh! This morning I woke up around 2 am and realized... I've never had a migraine but now I have much more sympathy for Sister North!!!

I'm so happy to be staying in Oswego! I can't believe how long I will have stayed in this area but I'm grateful for it. Hopefully this transfer we'll see the fruits of our labors because yesterday, we felt a little discouraged. We decided to do a lot of dropping during our weekly planning, so that will happen this week. President Rogers, he being the most wonderful mission president to ever live, always calls dropping "putting them back in the Lord's hands". That's truly what it is. If God is still living and loving, no one will ever ever be "dropped". My love for President Rogers just grows each week. We had zone conference on the Book of Mormon on Wednesday. I CRIED multiple times!!! And then I got frustrated with myself after I tried to bear my testimony at then end of the meeting because I can't express myself like Elder Holland. He's the only one who can adequately say how I feel about that book. President Rogers challenged us to read the whole Book of Mormon by Easter marking with a red pencil all references to Jesus Christ. What a wonderful challenge to unify our mission!! I'm pretty stoked. I invite you all to join us!!! The Spirit overpowers me when I read just a few verses of the Book of Mormon so it's wonderful having the Spirit so strong as a companionship all the time.

Return and Report was pretty good. I'm starting to feel like a really old missionary. Like, I don't get excited about going to Utica anymore which used to feel like a trip to Disneyland at the beginning of my mission. But training really helps me to be excited about the little things. Seeing the other trainees just reaffirmed my testimony that President is inspired when he assigns companionships! I'm so grateful for Sister Saunders. She seriously is the most wonderful trainee I could have ever asked for. I learn something new everyday!

Well, this next week is supposed to be the best ever with the half-mission Christmas Conference and other Christmas-y things. We're going to be doing a lot of finding too. We're trying to find another Jim Willig :) The Lord's preparing people in Oswego and we can feel it!

Well, I love you all! I'm excited to talk with you on Christmas!

Sister Brynnie Hallsted

Monday, December 7, 2015

Oswego #20 "Midnight Missionaries"

Watching the devotional.
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Baptism selfie! After it was over..
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car selfies :)
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exchange photos!
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Dearest family,

You will not even believe the morning we had... So, this morning we both wake up, say our prayers, make our beds, but we're abnormally tired. We start cleaning like we do every p-day morning. When I go to vacuum, it feels just wayyy to early to be vacuuming. I sometimes worry about our neighbors downstairs when we're exercising or cleaning so early in the morning. So then I look out the window and see that it's still super dark outside. Thinking that we cleaned impressively speedy this p-day, I look at the clock and it says 12:45 AM. What the heck.... So I thought maybe the power went out during the night and it reset itself, but I check the phone and sure enough, we both randomly woke ourselves up around midnight and thought it was 6:30 AM! HAHA! We decided to just eat and study right then because we were so awake and starving. But we fell asleep around 2 and woke up late. I am automatically set now to wake up at 6:30 so I am sooo tired. It was hilarious. We were laughing at ourselves for quite a long time!

Sister Saunders and I are having too much fun I think... We went on exchanges and when we got back together it just made us love each other even more. I'm so so grateful to once again have a companion that I can teach well with because it's hard when you don't! She also thinks I'm hilarious which of course I love :)

This week was quite eventful, although I can't for the life of me remember what happened...We found 8 new investigators this week! The couple we tracted into in West Brynnington (just our made up name for it... it's west of Brynnington apartments) are SO Mormon already. They met with elders once in Fulton but don't remember anything. They aren't big into religion, but they like to learn. We're baptism invitation happy right now so we're inviting them to be baptized next lesson. Kevin came to church again with Kayla and their kids. Ioooove them. He's making so much progress! On Fridays we sing for individual residents at St. Luke's Nursing Home. We have quite the fan club now and everyone was asking us if we could do a little show for Christmas. So the activities director had us bring the elders and move the piano to each floor. The elders wanted to sing with us, which only seems fair, but they were absolutely terrible at singing. The old ladies all thought they were cute though so it was okay.. just painful for Sister Saunders and I. We sang some songs alone, Sister Saunders played her violin and on each floor, for the very last song, we sang "Jesus Loves Me". This is a song that one of the residents (my favorite) Bud taught me. He passed away while I was in Liverpool, but now we sing that for everyone. They all know it and love it! We were singing that on one of the floors and I started to cry. The Spirit it sooo strong each time we sing for the residents there, but especially that time. It was so powerful to be standing there with these other missionaries, all of us being so young in life and knowing with out a doubt that Jesus loves us. Many nurses and volunteers filmed us on their phones. It was really cool.

On Saturday, D was baptized. I think I have never said anything at all about her although we've been visiting with her every other day since August. She's been baptized twice and removed her name. She called in August and said she wanted to be baptized again. This is the LAST time. I am sure of it. I was a little anxious all day long- wondering if we had taught her enough and if she was really committed this time. But when the baptism happened, I felt so so good. Maybe one of the most spiritual baptisms so far on my mission. She's made so much progress since the beginning. I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost which I just loved. A lot more people showed up than we thought would! It's silly how I still get kind of nervous to speak in front of people, but not nervous in lessons at all! But after that baptism, the Spirit has been so strong. I've loved it. When you have strong spiritual experiences, you really become addicted to it and you never want it to leave.

Church was absolutely amazing, which is huuuge for the Fulton ward! I was so happy. The Spirit was so strong in testimony meeting. Sister Saunders didn't see why I was so happy. She is still trying to adjust to the people of New York. I'm trying to be sympathetic because I know I'm so used to them by now. They are my comfort zone now and I don't want to go back to a normal ward. I looove these people.

We're getting transfer calls on Saturday and I really don't want to leave! I have been here since July, but I'm training so I don't know what will happen. We have nine people set to be baptized now and all in January! So I hope I can stay for them! Also, I LOVE the new Christmas pass along cards. We died of happiness when we got them. We're using them like crazy and trying all sorts of interesting approaches with them. One thing I love about Sister Saunders is that our roleplays are hilarious. I have hated roleplays my whole mission but I knew I'd have to come to love them before I go home. Now I do! They really do help. It's just hard to force myself to do them because I feel like an idiot. But Sister Saunders makes them fun. She's really really coming out of her shell and being a weirdy with me! I love training her. We just love each other :)

Well I must go, but remember, Jesus loves you and so do I!!!

Sure love ya,
Sister Hallsted

P.s. There's a bed bug out break in our mission again and everyone's freaking out. It's so awesome. I love it!
P.p.s. Thank you to the 8th ward for the pillow case! What a nice surprise!
P.p.p.s Everyone's asking if I'm freezing to death... It's actually like been in the 40s since the first time it snowed. I want snow!!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Oswego # 19 "We should always pray..."

Dear Family,

I have little phrases from different people here that they say all the time in the back of one of my Book of Mormons. This is Sister Saunders. I love it! Before we go into a lesson, I say "Should we pray?" and she says "We should always pray." then we pray together before we go. I love this new trademark of hers :) I hear it like a hundred times a day!

Well this week was pretty good. Honestly right now I'm super distracted so let's see if I can remember anything about this week! I guess this is week we saw a lot of miracles! Like, we picked up a new investigator who was a referral from Sister Whitley actually. Her name is Kim. We felt prompted to teach her the plan of salvation for some reason and then we invited her to be baptized and she said yes! It was AMAZING. Also this week we had a lesson with Kevin. Kayla wasn't there, but we brought the Tuimaloau twins. He loves them. I can't remember what we planned, but he basically quoted the last verse in 2 Nephi 31 so I changed everything and decided we should read that instead. We started with the last verse, then read the whole chapter through to find out what "the way" is. He was amazed at how it answered his questions. I extended the most interesting baptismal invitation I've ever given. I can't remember exactly how it was said, but basically I told him that God has been telling him through the Spirit that he needs to be baptized. We asked him if he would follow those promptings from God and be baptized. He thought about it forever and said "Yes, I would like that very much." It was amazing!!! We have seven people getting baptized in January as of right now.

Jess, Bob and the kids have been evicted. We helped them clean and pack. We think that service is the way that the Lord will work with Bob. He's opened up to us SO much. They haven't texted us back but they were trying to find somewhere to stay for a couple nights but then they'll move into a house still in Oswego, down by the water! I'm happy about that!

Anyways, I'm sorry this is a very short email again. Oh, and for Thanksgiving, we served food at the Salvation Army. We're like celebrities there now. I loooove it there with all those kind of people. They're so humble and happy. We also went to the Rowley's for dinner. It is so formal there so we were both so not used to Thanksgiving dinner being so fancy. But they're great.

Okay, I must go! But I love you all SO much. I pray for you daily, dearest family! Thank you for all you do for me. Remember, Jesus loves you and so do I!!!

Sister Brynnie Hallsted

Just took this district picture!

Another lesson in the Richardson-Bates House/ Downton Abbey!!!