Email September 23, 2013

Hello from Sista Hemull (Australian pronunciation)!

Well, you guessed it! I have survived my first transfer! YAY!! Haha Sister Eldredge and I are still companions for at least another 6 weeks so transfers didn't affect us but I am proud to say that I have been in Australia for 6 weeks! This week was pretty good and very stressful! I saw the mission psychologist again and I cried and cried and cried...but then I got better and things are good now! I got 4 letters this week from my daddy, Mama P, Haleigh, and Grandpa Petersen and I got them on the perfect day so thank you so much! I didn't get any letters out this week because of our zone activity on Monday but I should have time to write today! (fingers crossed) We have two baptisms this coming Saturday for Ajor and Brother Bills! Ajor is an absolute miracle! She is the one who did not have permission from her husband to be baptised but this week we saw her and spoke with her husband and he told her that it was her decision! You should have seen her face light up! Ah! It was so amazing! She was interviewed after churchyesterday and she is set and good to go! I am so excited! Brother Bills is getting married to Sister Gilbert (member) on Friday and then he is being baptised on Saturday and then he is baptising his children next Friday so it's absolute chaos in their home this week but it is beautiful, fun, exciting chaos! Oh, and he also had his gallbladder removed on Thursday...so yeah. CRAZY!!! It is pretty miraculous.

So Michael that I told you about last week was given to the Elders to teach since he is a single man and we found out that he had impure motives and only talked to us because he thought we were pretty. So that is a bummer but our district got a good laugh out of it! I taught a training in district meeting on Thursday and it was the greatest experience ever! I was so nervous but I walked up and totally rocked it! That may sound prideful but I call it confidence...haha which has been a major struggle for me so it is kind of a big deal! But yes, it was great! I taught about how we can get the ward involved in helping our investigators attend church and I talked about ward families and how awesome it would be if they treated our investigators like family and I got super pumped and excited. It was kinda silly but it was really fun!

We had a really cool experience with this one family who has been taught by missionaries for over a year! They are the Atac family and they are a gorgeous African family. The three daughters come to church every week and mutual every Tuesday (yes Tuesday) and they want to be baptised but their parents haven't been on board! So long story short, we went and visited their family and their dad told us that he has a feeling that the church is true and he has only let the missionaries teach him ONCE!  He said he had been thinking about it for a long time and he is ready to learn more! We are hoping that the entire family will be baptised on the26th of October! It is so incredible the impact that one conversation can have on a person! So I want to give you all some advice :) Every time you meet someone, talk to them like they are your family. We are all children of our Heavenly Father and the divine identity that we have truly connects us all in very special and specific ways! Everyone we know is there for a reason!

One more story!! So yesterday I met my dad. Yes dad, I met you!! It was awesome! So every week we are given a list of 5 people who are inactive and we only had one left! His name was Chris Hewitt and he lives in the suburb called Globe Derby Park which is a suburb that we had never heard of and had no idea that people actually lived there but actually the BEST people live there!! It is all huge mansions on horse property and it is green and gorgeous! Chris was baptised at 18 in the year 1975 and has been inactive since then but he has always known that God is looking out for him. He just got out of a messy divorce and he has really started to reflect on the important things in life. Anyway, I had the best conversation with him and I told him that he reminds me of my dad and it was just the best conversation! We are going to visit him later in the week and he is coming to church on Sunday! He is very wealthy but he doesn't care about money! He actually WANTS to pay tithing! He is so cool and down to earth and he wears jeans and a tshirt and it is just so great! Haha so yeah! I like Chris a lot.

I don't have much else to report other than the fact that there are dog cleaners here. There are little stations that are open 24/7 where people go to wash their dogs. It is hilarious! I will take a picture of one today and send it in my email next week! Things down under are remarkable and I am doing quite well! Heavenly Father always makes up for it when I fall short! The gospel of Jesus Christ is real! He lives and loves me!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you all so much!

Sister Shailyn Diane Hamel


Email September 16, 2013

Hello my dear friends and family,


This week was good. I feel super lazy at the moment so I can't promise that I will write a lot but I do want to tell you all about a few things! So I have to tell you more random things about Australia to start with! The dairy products here are so creamy and they make me feel so sick. It is awful! The cheese is bitter and tastes funny but I am getting used to it because I eat a lot of sandwiches because they are pretty much the only thing I like. We eat so many weird meals that I have to eat things like sandwiches and chicken strips to balance it out! Haha speaking of food, we ate at an American member's home last night and we had bacon cheeseburgers and A&W Root Beer! It was the most amazing meal I have eaten here so far! President Butler is an incredible cook and he is a hick and listens to country music and used to rodeo and we get along so great! He know all the good country music! He asked me if I like "King George" and I just laughed. So we sang some George Strait and Garth Brooks and he played guitar and it was like I was home for an hour and, let me tell you, I needed it! It is still raining a ton here and it was raining this morning but its sunny right now! My umbrella exploded so I have to buy a new one. Don't ask me what happened...but I may or may not have gotten really excited about using my umbrella that I opened it a little too violently and it just burst a little bit...Haha anyway, random fact: light bulbs are called light globes here and the speed limits are actual LIMITS! If you are one kph over, you will get pulled over. It's nuts.

I told my companion about the problems I have been having with her on Thursday and that was...interesting. She was super offended but I needed to get it out because it has helped me so much to get over the stupid little things that drive me nuts. We are just so different and it makes me think that she is self absorbed and it makes the stupidest things annoy me...like the fact that she always squints when she talks to me or the fact that she yawns in the middle of every prayer that she offers. Yeah...its stupid. Haha but I am getting over it and learning to love her. She commanded evil spirits to leave a lesson the other day and I am still trying to process it. I don't really know what to think. It could have something to do with our levels of spirituality at this point but for some reason I cannot wrap my mind around raising your right hand and yelling that the evil spirits possesing a less active's body to depart. I have been praying to strengthen my faith to understand better but I am not really there yet. I will keep you updated.

I found out that they weren't kidding when they told us that this was one of the most stressful missions in the world....4 missionaries from my zone went home in just 3 weeks. Missions are really hard for those of you who were wondering. Haha but I am doing really well! Each day gets better and I am learning that the less I worry about what I feel or how tired I am, the happier I am. I was so concerned with being this perfect missionary and not being able to measure up but now I am learning to just be me and people seem to like that much more. I know its silly but it is hard to be yourself when so many people have really high expectations for you! It feels like I am learning to be the person I already was with minor improvements...and the worst thing about it is that I am relearning it every single day! It's exhausting but so rewarding! I love it here! I love Australia! I miss the States like crazy but there is nothing like what I have been called to do! I get to talk to people about hope, joy, and love all day every day and it is great because those are my favorite things! As far as stories for the week, I will just tell a brief miracle from this week!  On Saturday afternoon, Sister Eldredge and I went to follow up with a potential investigator and we had to walk up a massive hill to get there. On the way back down, a man walked out of his home and said hello to us. We said hello and started to walk away but he just kind of lingered there so we decided to stop and talk to him. Come to find out, he saw us walk up the hill and came outside to say hello! Talk about a prompting from the Spirit! So we got to talking and we taught him a brief version of the first three lessons in about 20 minutes. He just got out of a long relationship and is looking for a fresh start and a better life and a way to get his life together again. So we invited him to church the next day and he CAME!!! He is excited to learn more and we set up an appointment to teach him tomorrow and I am really excited! The Lord blesses us so much when we make inspired plans and strive to make our goals! I have such a testimony of what I am doing! The Lord places certain people in our lives for very specific reasons! So the next time you hate someone, ask yourself what you can learn. Haha sometimes that is really hard and maybe they are just in your life to be an example of the person you don't want to be but hey, at least you know!

I got letters from Elder Petersen, Mama P, and a package from Kaylese and Clay and my daddy and I LOVED them! I cannot get enough of the mail! It is seriously so great! Just a heads up, I can't use the forever stamps from the states so if you sent me some, I am sending them back! We have a zone activity today so I don't know how much time I will have to write letters but I will do my best to respond to all of the ones I got! I love you all so much! Adelaide is still cold but it is getting warmer and the sunsets are beautiful! When we are up in the hills we can see the ocean and it is amazing! It's the little things that matter :)

I love you all and am STILL praying for you! Have a wonderful week! :D


Email September 9, 2013

Hello my favorites!

Well I know it has only been a few days but I am actually going to tell a few stories today! Thursday evening was kinda scary...We went to follow up with a potential investigator named Sharron that the Elder's had referred to us. She let us into her home and the moment we walked in, we could just feel that it was going to be a weird experience. She told us all about her life and how her husband of 24 years had abused her and she left him 4 years ago when he hit her son (who was 12 at the time). They are now legally separated but not divorced because her husband won't sign the divorce papers and she is with another man and she kept telling us that she knows that she is sinning but she feels stuck. It was confusing but anyway...her husband tries to break into her home and he broke the front door and she is terrified of him all the time because at one point he had a knife to her throat. On top of all that, she has her 16 year old son's girlfriend living with them because she was abused in her home. The two kids don't attend school and they all drink and smoke all the time and it is just a sad and miserable environment where they all live in fear. We talked about how we can help her and tried to introduce the gospel but she kept going off on weird, drunken rants and confusing us. She insulted my poor companion a dozen times and I felt so bad. She loved me and kept hugging me. Then her son's girlfriend came home and we found out that she had been raped twice and had tried to kill herself many times and she showed us the scars on her arm where she cut herself countless times. My stomach was turning and I burst into tears. I told her that I was going to help her create a better life for herself and that there was hope and I was a mess and she was a mess and my companion was confused. It was just a really crazy experience. I cried all the way home and we set an appointment to see her tomorrow. I want to help her so badly! I don't really know where I was going with this story but I just wanted to tell it...

Anyway, on Fridays we visit a recent convert named Lori. She is hilarious. Her house smells so bad! It is the strongest urine smell you could possibly imagine...and because of that, I am convinced that pee smells worse than poop. Haha anyway,she tells us the weirdest stories about how little kids in the store look at her and say that she has wings and that people that have died speak through her. Crazy stuff. To top it all off, she was baptized in the wrong name so when her birth certificate comes in, she has to be re-baptized...hahaha. Oh! And she got married over Skype. She is just so peculiar but she is a great missionary so we still meet with her because she gives us tons of support and great referrals. We love the weird ones too :) Later that evening, we had an appointment fall through and as we were driving to go see our back-up we found this boy that we had been praying to find for over three weeks since we met him! It was a miracle! He had gotten in trouble so he had to sit outside! Haha we freaked out when we found him and we are going to visit him and his family this week! :) A couple hours after that, we went to see these three Persian women that we are teaching who speak no English AT ALL. We gave them a Persian Book of Mormon 6 days earlier and they had already read more than half of it and they LOVED it! So we were super stoked about that! Since we can't really teach them, we decided to sing to them (of course). We sang four hymns and they were all in tears! It was such a spiritual experience! I wish I could describe how I felt afterward! I was so happy!

Well those are pretty much the only stories worth telling! We had 8 investigators at church on Sunday which was a MIRACLE and they all loved it! We have a baptism this Saturday for Brother Noesbar who is an 82 year old man who has literally been an investigator for over 40 years so we are really excited that he is finally being baptized! He's such a stubborn old man but the Lord is sure mindful of His children! It's incredible! Haha so family, will you please send me copies of all 3 of my talks please??? That would be awesome to have on hand! Oh and everyone should read Enos 1:27 because it has given me a lot of comfort today! Oh and also, women here nurse their babies without covering themselves...in lessons, on airplanes, sitting on a bench, etc. We had one lady nurse while we were teaching her last night. It's a whole different world here. Also, I am super tired of the food here. There is nothing appetizing about it....so today I have planned to buy about 8 boxes of chicken strips. I am really excited!!

Enough about that nonsense! I love you all so much and am so grateful for the mail that I have received! It makes life wonderful! Life is hard but the little good things are exponentially better! Everyone stay safe and thank you for your prayers! I am praying for you always!

Sister Shailyn Shwinn Lyn Shailynny-poo Hamel :)


Email September 5, 2013

Well hi!

Haha so...today we got to go to the temple so that is why preparation day wasn't on Monday! I totally forgot about it until after it was too late so please forgive me! It has been the craziest 10 days of my life so let me tell you all about it!! :) Monday night I had another meltdown but I got over it so it was okay. Haha then on Tuesday I had another HUGE meltdown and my companion and I ended up driving to the mission home and I had a meeting with President and Sister Carter because I just could not stop crying. It was awful. BUT!! The first thing I said to President when I walked into his office was, "I am NOT going home." So yeah...haha I just needed a little extra guidance and help.We talked for about an hour and a half and then he gave me the most personal, incredible blessing I have ever received! I haven't cried sad tears since! We got home after 10 that night so we had to repent but I felt so much better! So because of that, I am now seeing the mission psychologist because well...I'm mental. Not really but I do have severe anxiety. Go figure. She gave me some funny exercises to do so that the meltdowns don't happen again and, believe it or not, they're working. I have a problem with thinking errors and they are really quite selfish so I have been studying charity and humility a lot the past week...haha. I have been so much more positive and happy and it is just incredible! Wow. Anyway, so I ate chicken strips for the first time since I've been here and they were glorious. They are definitely still my favorite food! When I get home, we are all eating kangaroo sausages because they are so good! They have a ton of flavor! I haven't seen a kangaroo or anything yet so that's a bummer but I think I'm going to next week. Don't quote me on that but that's what it sounds like. The one secret about missionary life is that it is the most unorganized organized living ever. Our plans change constantly and we have so much stuff to keep track of and people to see and members to please and a ward mission leader that needs to feel wanted. It all gets very overwhelming but at the end of the day, I love it!

We had companion exchanges on Tuesday and OH MY GOODNESS!! It was the best experience of my life! Honestly. My companion for the day was our sister training leader, Sister Lucas, and I absolutely adore her. She is from Tahiti and she says that our family is welcome at her home anytime (wink). She is 25 years old and she has been serving for about 12 months so she is getting to the tail end of her mission and if I am half as amazing as she is at my year mark then I will be just fine! She helped me feel so comfortable and I actually lead THREE lessons! That is HUGE for me! It was such a great day! We visited this less active sister named Deborah and she was kind of a nut but I love her because she is emotionally unstable just like me! She burst into tears randomly and I talked her through it and now she's coming to church this week and I am so excited. SO excited! Oh, side note...if you want to send me a package, send it to 11 Sommers Avenue Firle, South Australia 5070 Australia. If you have already sent me a package to the other address, that is fine but send all other packages to that one! Thanks! This week I got letters from Elder Petersen, Mama P, Mikelle, and Taylor Welker! It was great! Haha letters are the best thing ever! I am hoping to have time to send out some more letters today but we are super busy and it is already almost 4 and we have an appointment at 6 so we'll see.

So for some reason, I am not afraid to sing for people here. Sister Eldredge and I sing to everyone!! I mean EVERYONE! We harmonize and the whole 9 yards. It's pretty great! Haha she is a Schae Chapman type singer so she gets pretty fancy with her voice. It's no Schae but it'll do for now! I have been serving for over a month now so that is pretty cool! Only 17 more to go! I am going to jump around saying a bunch of random stuff right now but I keep remembering things so bear with me! The chocolate here is gross and if you would like to send me some Snickers...or a Symphony bar or 7 I would not complain! They sell snickers here but they cost too much and I don't want to get fat...but if you send it to me, it will be okay because it's a gift and gifts can't go to waste. Anyway, I watch mormon messages during every meal and I am so addicted! If you haven't watched Mormon Messages on LDS.org, do it because they are so incredible! They get me so pumped about life! The mailmen here ride motorcycles. It's super cool. They are so nice too. They love everyone...which is a big deal for Australia because Aussies are big time haters...in a good way. Horses have a nickname even. People call them trotters and a saddle is called a jinky. Weird. Oh, and shrimp are called prons...and garages only hold cars. The garages are TINY! Oh and trucks are called utes...as in short for utility vehicle. Aussies love to abbreviate. It's fascinating. I still speak with an American accent 100 percent of the time but my personal prayers are said with an Australian accent in my head. It is super weird. I honestly can't help it! Haha if you don't know hymn number 44, you should learn it because it is really good! It's our mission song! We sing it almost every day!

Oh so for you fathers or soon to be fathers, Sunday was Australian Father's Day so Happy Father's Day! (especially my daddy) :D Oh and you mommies out there, diapers are called nappies. It is great. So the news about how I am doing? I am great. I am very happy but 10:30 is way too late to go to sleep. Haha not really but I am so exhausted every night that I CRASH. I sleep very well! I eat a lot of bread and rice and jelly and nutella and bread...but mostly bread. We have a baptism next Saturday and three a couple of weeks later (hopefully). We have one investigator named Ajor and her husband hates us so she may not be able to be baptized but we are praying for her! We love her so much and she is so ready to be baptized! Her children love it too...just her husband is stubborn. Catholic people are super intense...

Other than that, I don't have a lot to share. Sorry I don't have more experiences but those are easier to write in letters so I will send them that way! All is well in Adelaide! It is warming up! It has been about 28 degrees Celsius pretty consistently but today it's rainy and cold again so we'll see what happens! I will be sending another email on Monday so you don't have to miss out on too much! I love you all and I am still praying for you every day! Stay strong and be happy!

Sister Hamel


Email August 26, 2013

Hello lovlies!!

Well, it has been quite a week! Things here are starting to warm up and the sun has finally broken through the clouds! I really hope it last because the cold just isn't very funny to me....at all! Haha I am learning fast and have had about 3 meltdowns about how hard this is and how I just can't seem to figure myself out...let alone open my mouth! We had district finding on Wednesday which is just a nice way of saying TRACTING. Yes I still hate it. Yes it is terrifying. Yes people are horribly rude. Anyway...Sister Eldredge made me knock on a door and talk at our FIRST house and I was mortified. I knocked and a really nice Aussie answered the door which is kind of a big deal because we don't meet nice Aussies very often. Anyway, she was a young mom with three adorable kids that I am not allowed to hold and I stumbled over my words and I am still not sure if what I said made any sense at all. All I know is that I said something about The Family: A Proclamation to the World and then smiled stupidly as she stared blankly at me. Feeling extremely silly, I blurted out, " I'm sorry. This is my first time doing this." She laughed at me and told me it was fine and GUESS WHAT!! We set up a return appointment with her and I love her and I am so excited about it because I was a big girl and I did it all by myself!! Now this might now seem like a very big deal to you but it is HUGE for me because after that, I got about 10 more doors slammed in my face before we stopped tracting because we had an appointment and it was pouring and I couldn't feel my face anymore! So yeah...I hate tracting. Nothing new.

I only get mail once a week and it takes much longer to get here than it does to get there so I have only gotten two little notes from Mama P and that's it but I am hoping to get the rest of your letters and things this Thursday when we have District Meeting! And please keep sending them even if it takes me a while to respond! I am SO busy but getting letters is better than a 5 year old on Christmas! It's so great!

We went tracting again the other day and every single person rejected us. It was awesome...Then we went to follow up with a potential investigator and her husband yelled at us to get off of his property. I almost cried...It was so terrifying! I don't understand why people have to be so mean. I am a sad 19 year old girl for crying out loud! Oh! Speaking of being yelled at, this morning I was vacuuming our car out at like 6:30am and the lady next door screamed at us! She said the 'bloody' word which is like the F word here. So yeah that was scary too...haha I won't be vacuuming the car in the morning anymore....Oh and more yelling....so this week at ward correlation on Saturday with Bishop Ween and the ward mission leader, we got chastised for having too many investigators who wanted to come to church because we didn't have enough members willing to take them. Crazy right!? So after that Sister Eldredge and I felt like we couldn't do anything right because at zone conference on Thursday we got in trouble for not getting enough people to church and then when we had 12 investigators confirmed to come, we got in trouble. It was not a good day...Haha lucky the Elders called us and told us to keep up the good work. I love our Elders. They are so amazing! It's like having my big brothers with me :)

We taught young women's yesterday which was kinda scary since I am pretty sure they all hate Americans...at least that's the excuse I'm using. They didn't participate at all and the leaders were not helping but other than that, it was good. Haha we taught on eternal marriage which was kinda ironic considering we're missionaries aka nuns right now! It was fun to teach though because members are a lot more forgiving than investigators (even if they hate Americans). We fasted this week as well as last week and guess what....Sunday is fast Sunday so yeah we are fasting queens but it is good because we see the blessings almost immediately! Last night we were in a lesson with an investigator and she invited her "brother and sister" from her African village over for the lesson and the brother was actually a preacher and we taught them the first and second lesson AND invited them to be baptized and they accepted! It was incredible! They are excited about reading the Book of Mormon which is awesome because sometimes it is EXTREMELY difficult to help people understand why they need to read it! But yeah it was great! We also had a first lesson with another beautiful African family and the father said straight up, "If this wasn't true, you wouldn't be here." So that was so great and we are so excited to help them and work with them and get to know them! Ah! It's amazing!

So I have decided that I am just about the worst missionary ever because I am terrified of people...just in general. That is what my latest meltdown was about. I couldn't even role play talking to our investigators because I was so nervous about it...but I know it will come and I will learn. Sister Eldredge is great and she pushes me but she is very patient with me so it is great! Hahaha something funny that she always does is that when our investigators don't speak English, she always says Jesus Christ in Spanish and it cracks me up because not a single one of our investigators speaks Spanish. It is so hard not to laugh every time. It totally pulls me out of the spirit in the lesson sometimes which is horrible but it is so funny sometimes that I just can't help it. The confused look on their faces is priceless. I haven't said anything to her about it yet because I love it. Haha oops...does that make me a terrible person? Probably. I will work on that.

Speaking of working on things, I never realized how imperfect I am. This obedience thing isn't hard but it is just so much to remember! We spend so much time calculating numbers and setting daily, weekly, monthly, and transfer-ly goals that are so in depth! It is exhausting but I am learning a lot about organization so that's good I guess! My brain is so tired and I sleep SO well at night but it is great because I know that I am working as hard as I possibly can! Prayers are encouraged and greatly appreciated still though! Missionary work is not easy!! Don't let anyone fool you! But it is so rewarding! I am growing so much and I am almost a big girl about talking to people...well kinda. I'll get it. Patience is the next thing on my list of things to learn!

Well that is all I have for you this week that I can remember! I love you all so much and I will try to respond to all of the emails I got! I have 30 minutes left and 16 emails to respond to so I am so sorry if I don't answer yours! Thank you for all the love, support, and prayers! I couldn't do this without all of you! Cheers!! :)


First email from Australia- Aug. 19, 2013

Hello! (nobody here says hi)

Well after four days(ish) I made it to Adelaide! It's freezing cold and miserably rainy just about every single day and my toes are ALWAYS cold but I'm getting used to it! So for those of you that don't know what happened, on Sunday night I was supposed to leave but my flight to Los Angeles got cancelled so after 7 hours in the Salt Lake City airport all by myself I ended up having to stay in a hotel all by myself. I flew out on Monday afternoon with a few Elders from my zone and we hung out in to LA airport (too scared to talk to people) for about 8 hours. The Elder from my zone got his visa that morning so we met up at the airport and he was my companion (awkward) on my 14.5 hour flight to Sydney. I slept for 9 of the hours and then spent the rest of the time eating and memorizing D&C 121:33-46. It was pretty exciting! Oh! Everyone needs to fly to Australia because Qantas airlines has the most amazingly nice planes ever! They gave me a blankie, pillow, eye cover thing, toothbrush, and toothpaste and they fed us two meals that were actually pretty good! So before I tell you about my experiences I need to clarify a few things about Australia....They have peanut butter and root beer but it is in very small supply. Right now it is 11am on Monday the 19th so you can do the time difference calculation! I have seen zero spiders, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, or snakes. The accent is contagious but they get offended if Americans try to use it so I try really hard not to...but I really wish I could because it's fun! Haha our apartment is called a flat. A sweatshirt is a jumper. College is called Uni. People do not use linking words like the, a(n), etc. A shopping cart is a trolley. The mall has grocery stores in it. The grocery store is the market. The shopping center is the shops. When you say, "Thank you" they say "That's alright"  instead of "You're welcome." They ask "How you going" instead of "How are you doing?" They are huggers. Nobody is Australia is actually Australian and 90 percent of our investigators do not speak English and it is a little frustrating. I am sure there are a lot more things but that is all I can think of at the moment!

On Wednesday I arrived here with 8 other new missionaries (most of which were visa waiters). We got a bunch of information crammed into our brains and then we got to meet our potential trainers! We had an arrivals dinner with them as well as the mission president and his wife and all the senior couples. After which all of the new missionaries bore their testimonies and we got our companions! My companion is Sister Eldredge who happened to be the only trainer that is from the USA. She is from Utah, She is 20 and she is great. She is very very very very focused which has helped me learn very fast! That night we went to our flat which is only about 15 minutes from the mission home and I went straight to bed! Our area is Parafield Gardens in the Paralowie District!On Thursday morning we got up at 5:30 to have district sport with the Elders in our district which are Elder Taylor (he knows the Petersens and went to Gilbert High) and Elder Reed who are both Americans and Elder Hemi who is from Sydney and Elder Holmes who is from Canada. We also had two other Sisters with us who were traveling to Darwin that afternoon! That day was crazy and I was super exhausted by the end. So far I hate tracting but my companion absolutely loves it. In fact, she says that she has a testimony of it. It's pretty intense. Haha I am sure I will get there eventually. I don't want to spend too much time talking about the lessons we taught but I will tell you that we have 9 baptism dates which is huge and we are working with some incredible families...most of which speak very little English. We meet with two families from Nepal and they LOVE us and are very interested and have baptismal dates but their families will disown them if they are baptized so we are praying that a way will be opened up for them and they will be able to trust in the Lord. We are also meeting with an African family who speak Dinka (sp?) and I am IN LOVE with them! I have discovered that Africans are the most beautiful people on the planet! They are a husband (Joseph) and wife (Ajor) and their two gorgeous babies! Ajor and the children attend church every week and they love it even though they don't understand what they say. We met with them last night and had a member with us who speaks Dinka translate and help them to understand better and it was such an  incredible experience! Ah! I loved it! We are also teaching Tina who is from Zimbabwe and she felt the spirit so strongly in the very first lesson that she already wants to be baptized and she has a date now we are just working to teach her more! She has a Book of Mormon in her language and she is reading and knows it is the word of God! I love her so much! Haha there is nothing more amazing than seeing people recognize the spirit and come closer to Heavenly Father! We are also teaching people who speak Cambodian and Vietnamese and Chinese and the list just goes on! We are teaching so so so simply and it is really hard for people to understand us but they understand the spirit and it is so apparent and beautiful!

Like I said before, Australia is freezing right now! Actually it's not but I hate the cold so it is killing me! Haha the rain is miserable and it is always windy but we are doing just fine. We have a car and yeah it's weird to drive on the left side of the road but you get used to it so quickly! The metric system is going to take a while to get used to but I'll get it eventually...haha the cost of living her is out of control expensive but everyone here gets money from the government. It's a little ridiculous. The toilets flush weird. They don't spin....they just shoot water. It's violent! Haha they don't have central heating so we have a little portable heater that moves from room to room with us in our flat and, like I said, I am ALWAYS cold. We get fed like crazy! There is not a single day this week that we aren't being fed. The members take great care of us! I am going to gain weight. I have no doubt about that! We have been fed dinner more than once in a day because in many cultures it is impolite to say no and here we have to finish our food always so that is kinda killing me!! My stomach is always upset. The water tastes weird and my body is still trying to adjust but hopefully I'll get there. The trees smell funny and the birds have horns...or they're parrots. It's strange. I ate goat meat the other night and it was the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted. I was nauseous for the rest of the night and had to go to bed early because I felt so sick. I've eaten fish twice but I am not sure what kind. It wasn't bad but it wasn't my favorite. We eat a lot of crackers (which are called biscuits) and a lot of sweet potatoes for some reason! We have three sets of missionaries in one ward which is kinda crazy because at home there is one set of missionaries that cover three or four wards! We have 650 members but 500 of them are inactive so we visit a TON of inactive members! There is a lot to be done here in Adelaide. 95 percent of the members in the ward are converts and they are so humble and faithful and have some of the most incredible stories! The ward is interesting and saying damn and hell is not swearing here so they will say it over the pulpit at church...haha it's hilarious! I am already over the jet lag but the days are exhausted! My mission is one of the most obedient missions on the planet and is referred to as the Zion Australia Adelaide Mission. We even have t-shirts that say it on them! They're awesome! On the back they say, "Ask me what happened in 1820." It's fun. I love it.

I have been stressed and pushed to the max these past 5 days but it has been great! It's a lovely place with good people who want nothing to do with us...typical missionary life. Haha I would love it for everyone to send me hard copies of pictures because I was stupid and I brought zero...so I don't have any of your beautiful faces to look at! PLEASE SEND PICTURES ASAP!!! I also would love it if you could send me some global stamps because they are incredibly expensive here. I can't send you and letters until you send me stamps so hopefully that'll give you some motivation to do that! ;) I love you all so much! Life is good but very difficult! I can't wait until I get the hang of it.

Thank you all for the emails and things! It means so much! I miss you all and pray for you often! SHOUT OUT TO MY FAVORITE BIG SISTER KAYLESE!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY CICI!!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND I HOPE YOUR DAY WAS INCREDIBLE AND CLAYTON TOOK GOOD CARE OF YOU!!!

I love you all! The church is true! The work is hastening! We are so blessed! PRAY! READ! GO TO CHURCH! I will talk to you next week!!

Sister Shailyn Diane Hamel