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 

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