Friday, November 30, 2012

We now know how to contact Amy in the Philippines! She would love a letter or a package any time!! There are several different ways to contact her.

First method:
2.  On the top right corner, click on Write a Missionary
3.  Click on Select a Mission
4.  Select Philippines Quezon City (NOT Quezon City North!  Note that the mail is free!!!)
5.  Click on Write a Letter
Just type your letter and they will send it free!!
Second method:
This address sends your letter or package to the mission home;  they will then get it to Amy.  Here it is:
Sister Amy Nichole Harston
Philippines Quezon City Mission
Aurora Blvd. cor. JP Rizal St
Project 4, Cubao
Quezon City 1109, Metro Manila, Philippines
Third method:
Church "Pouch" Service
The Church "Pouch" Service was established for letters going to and coming from missions that have experienced unreliable postal service.  It can by used by family and friends only to send letters to missionaries via the Salt Lake City "Pouch" address (see below).  "Pouch" letters should only consist of paper-like materials.  Color photos may be printed on the paper.  Here are the "Pouch" regulations":
-Single sheet letter on white paper (not lined), folded in thirds and taped only at the top.
-Do not enclose pictures, currency, cards, or stamps
-No envelopes
-Packages NOT allowed through "Pouch"
Here's the "Pouch" address:
Sister Amy Nichole Harston
Philippines Quezon City Mission
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT   84130-0150
Thank you everyone!!!
Amy arrived to the Philippines safely! We got a letter from her mission presidents wife telling us of her safe arrival. She's definitely in good hands! - Stephanie Hodges

Dear Family of Amy Harston,

This is just a quick note to inform you that your daughter, Sister Harston, arrived safely at the mission home of the Philippines Quezon City Mission. She arrived along with her batch about 1:30 P.M. on Thursday, Nov 22. She met her companion, had an orientation, ate a nice dinner, and left with her companion to go to their area. She seemed a little tired, but was well and happy.

One thing to be aware of is that 4 of the 6 weeks in a transfer, p-day will be on Monday. One week per transfer, p-day is moved to Tues. so the missionaries can attend the temple (which is in our mission) since the temple is closed on Mon. The week of transfers, p-day is moved to Weds. so the missionaries have the day before transfers to prepare if they're being transferred. We just want you to be aware of this so you won't worry when your weekly e-mail is a day or two later than usual.

There will be a letter sent from the mission office in the next few weeks that will have more details and pictures, but we do want you to know that she arrived safely. We are excited to serve along side your daughter and look forward to getting to know her better!

Sister DeLaMare (PQCM)
(Note: Amy and the other missionaries traveling with her had just traveled for over 24 hours! No wonder she was so tired!)
Amy's Final Email from the States on November 20th! SO exciting!

It's only a matter of hours!!!! :)  I'm leaving for the airport in less than an hour now!!!! So this will be a quick note. We're all packed up and ready to go.
I can't wait to talk to you my wonderful family!!! Mom, I will call when I get to L.A. tonight. Our flight is scheduled to end at 9:28pm, so I'll call shortly after that. I can't wait to hear your voices and tell you all about the MTC!!! :)  Our next flight isn't until 12:05am, so we can chat for a while if you'd like. :) I hope Ty and Steph and Richie can make it, too! If not, it will be fine, but I would LOVE to hear their voices, too!
Dad- I got your email. Because of the time differences that we'll have, I think the best time to call would be before my first flight actually, so around 5 or 5:30pm tonight!! for me and we can chat for a while, too if you can! That would be awesome!  I will call you on the number you gave me. Can't wait!!
This week has been a blurr. It's gone by sooo fast! We've had so many amazing experiences, and the Spirit has been sooo strong. It didn't really hit me that we're going until yesterday when we were saying goodbye to our teachers. They are soooo awesome!! Sister Lewis is just a big goofball, but she knows how to bring the Spirit into the room and keep the elders focused and in line. (They've been really restless these past few weeks). And Brother Roxas has the biggest heart imaginable. His love for all us missionaries is so clear to see. I have LOVED the MTC!
Although it's been weird packing up and saying goodbye, today I woke up feeling READY. We got to go to the temple one last time this morning, and we went through and endowment session. I'm not really nervous yet. I just feel ready. I worked hard in the MTC and did my best, so I can trust God to help me and strengthen me. "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (D&C somewhere...)
Philippines HERE I COME!!!! :D I feel at peace and I know the Lord is with me.
I love this gospel!!! Read Alma 26. It is AMAZING. We read it together in class yesterday with Brother Roxas. I love it, and it gave me so much strength.
Talk to you soon!!
Sister Harston

(Note: I was able to talk to Amy that night while she was on her layover in LA. She sounded so ready to serve the Lord and bless the people in the Philippines. She's doing very well with the language and was able to communicate with our brother very well as they spoke in Tagalog. She sounded a little nervous, but mostly excited! She says she misses you all and says that she loves the letters that she has gotten so far! Thank you for supporting Sister Amy Harston!!  - Stephanie Hodges (Amy's sister))
Pictures of Amy and her group at the MTC! The second picture is of her in front of the Provo Utah Temple.

Amy's November 13th letter home!

Hello my wonderful family and friends!!

One week until I leave for the Philippines!!! How crazy is THAT??? We received our flight plans last Thursday! Wow. Time has really flown by. On that note, I have some questions to answer:


1. Yep, I'll be leaving on Nov. 20th. We meet at the travel office here at the MTC at 4:30pm and our flight is at 8:25pm at the SLC airport. I'm going to type my flight schedule for you so you have a better idea of my schedule:

Nov. 20   Leave SLC 8:25pm

Nov 20    Arrive LA 9:28pm


Nov 21   Leave LA 12:05am
Nov 22   Arrive Hong Kong 7:40am


Nov 22   Leave HK 9:05am
Nov 22   Arrive Manila! 11:15am

So there ya go! That's where I'll be! Crazy, huh?

2. Mom, As far as calling... I'll probably call during my first layover. They didn't give us a time limit for the phone call or the number of phone calls. So we can chat for a long time if we want! I'll call you as soon as I can get to a phone. I'll have a phone card, so minutes won't be a problem. :) You can send me a DearElder letter. that would be faster than snail mail. It is same-day delivery here at the MTC. Just go to and I'm not completely sure how it works from there, but Dad has sent me one before, so you could ask him if you can't figure it out.

Dad- Because of the time differences that we'll have, I think the best time to call would be during my second layover, so around 8am for me and we can chat for a while, too if you can! That would be awesome! Send me a dearElder if you want me to call a little later or whatnot.

3. Things to send me before I leave?

    - recipes? Mom, don't stress about this. Life is crazy. If you can't get them to me, don't worry about it. You could even send me an email and I can just print it out. I'll probably be able to print emails in the Philippines, too so don't stress too much about it. :)
    -I think I changed my mind about the tan "mini cami" thing. I think I would use that one, too.
    - a map of the US or of the world so I can show the Filipinos where I live. I think I can get it laminated here, so you probably don't need to worry about that. But if you have a sheet protector or something, that would be nice.
    - My ASL church signs book? It's the brown one. I would like to keep up on some of my church signs in case I get to teach Deaf people over there. I just thought of that this past week. I think it should either be in the bookcase in my closet or in the second drawer up in the tall dresser.
    -pics? I realized I don't have any pics of Tyler at all except for the one from your wedding! If I could a more current pic of him, maybe even one of a hiking trip from the last couple years or so or something.... And maybe a ballet pic of me? I didn't ever bring one and I think that'd be fun. But please don't worry about it if any of this isn't possible. Don't stress. These are just extra little things that I don't NEED. :)

4. Yes, I will send a package home before I leave the MTC. I am glad I will be inside vehicles and buildings for the trip because I won't have my jacket! But I will be fine. I'll be wearing my cardigan!

I think that answers all the questions.

Back to a short letter.
We have done a lot of studying this week and are continuing to learn huge amounts, though I'm realizing how much I still do NOT know. I am trusting in Heavenly Father to give me the strength. I am mostly just plain excited to go, but there is a little anticipation. I'm ready to move past the MTC though. I feel like I've developed some really great study habits, and I can't wait to get to the field to learn more from my trainer.

Not only did my companions and I work hard this past week, but we also made it a priority to have a little fun, too. It snowed this past week, so it's been beautiful. We decided to have fun with it. We couldn't have a snowball fight, because that's against the law here in Utah, but we made snow angels right after gym time one night (FREEZING! We went inside and took warm showers immediately afterwards.). We also made slushies with juice from the cafeteria and snow for the ice(actually turned out really yummy!), and made a tiny snowman. It was a lot of fun. It's gorgeous!! But it's super cold.

My companions and I happened to sit next to the Administrative Director of the MTC along with one other set of sisters heading to the Philippines. He talked to us about our investigators and gave us some pointers for how to teach them more effectively. It was super helpful and interesting. After lunch we left and applied what we learned to our teaching. I think that happened sometime last week. Sunday nights we have a fireside in a huge room with all the other missionaries. The Brother we had talked to was going to be the speaker. Before the meeting started, they announced over the microphone that they needed all the sisters going to the Philippines to come to the front. The brother picked us out and asked us to share what we had learned and how his information helped our teaching. Scary! So we are famous now here in the MTC. Haha. Everyone says hi to us like they know us and they all know where we're from. It was a fun experience.

Anyways, I'm out of time. I love you all lots! I pray for you every night, and I am so grateful for the prayers headed in my direction! I love this gospel so much and I am so excited to serve my Heavenly Father by doing His work! I know that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God and when paired with the Bible, we can learn sooo much!!!


Sister Harston

This is Amy's November 6th, 2012 email! There's pictures this time!

Kamusta pamilya ko at mga kaibigan ko!! (How are my family and friends!!)

It has been yet another wonderful week. Pday started out with another trip to the temple. We are so blessed to be able to go every week here in the MTC! I love the spirit there. This past week I have learned a lot. I feel like my understanding of the language has increased a lot this week and my fluidity of forming sentences has increased, especially when talking about gospel related subjects. I definitely need to continue with SYL (Speak Your Language) and having normal conversations. But it has been really neat in lessons, because I understand so much more!! I still have SO much to learn, and I will continue working hard. One of my teachers told our district that we are doing really well and that we are learning and improving way faster than she ever did. She said we'll still have a ton to learn once we go to the Philippines, but we'll have the basic understanding of the language, and we'll definitely have a good head start. Only two weeks left!! We could be receiving our flight plans this week!!! I will definitely keep you posted. I will be able to call home from the airport when I leave, too, so I'll let you know more info. Dad, will you have any access to a phone? I think I can get special permission to call both parents from the airport. Let me know if you will be available for that. It'd be awesome.

This week I've been able to go to the meetings related for the zone leaders, district leaders, and coordinating sister. I've really enjoyed them. I have really enjoyed how much closer I have grown to the sisters in our zone. What a blessing this calling has been so far! I have been praying for opportunities to serve for the last few weeks, and I've been able to find opportunities, but now I have SO many opportunities
every day!! The sisters are so strong, and I think I often learn more from them than they do from me. It has really helped me realize that I need to stop focusing on myself, and just focus on others, whether they be the sisters, the elders, or especially my investigators!! Love it. :)

Sunday was amazing. It was fast Sunday, and I had meetings all morning, and I got a chance to "interview" each senior companion of the sisters in our zone, to see how everything was going and if I could help with anything. They are so amazing! I was able to have a really good talk with each of the senior companions. They have such pure hearts! After the interviews, I went to a couple meetings, and then had Missionary Conference. After some more study time, we had Sacrament Meeting. I love our sacrament meetings here. Our branch presidency doesn't speak or know Tagalog, so the announcements are in English, but the talks and prayers are all spoken in Tagalog by the missionaries. I haven't given a talk yet, but I bet I'll be called up next week or the week after. It's very likely. We have to have a talk prepared each Sunday just in case. :) This last Sunday was Fast and Testimony meeting, and our district made it a goal to have us all get up and bear our testimonies in Tagalog. We did it, too! The Spirit was soooo strong! As I bore my testimony, I actually started to cry. If you've ever heard me bear my testimony before, you would know that that is pretty normal, but I didn't think I would know Tagalog well enough to be able to speak smoothly and feel the Spirit that strong. I felt like I knew exactly how to say what I needed, and the words flowed. What a miracle. I love the power of the Spirit. Later that night, we had a fireside, where President and Sister Seamons spoke. President Seamons spoke about the power and blessing of wearing the "black nametag." We are literally representatives of Jesus Christ!! What an honor, what a blessing, what a responsibility! We are called as representatives of Jesus Christ to preach His gospel to all the world! Thank you, Grandma Harston, for your sweet note. It's true. There are times when I can get discouraged, but I can't let it show because I am a representative of Jesus Christ, and I have to be an example to the sisters! When I start to feel down, I say a silent prayer for strength, and look for my problem. Then I try to fix it. I feel so much better when I turn to the Lord for help. I love the black nametag! It gives me strength.

Mom--Don't worry about the extra load of the calling. It has really helped me grow a lot already. I know I can do anything when I trust in the Lord. He is helping me. Thank you for the letter, for keeping me updated on the every day things, and for the scripture each week. It really means a lot.

Jerry-- thank you for your emails each week, too. Thanks for keeping me posted on how everything is. You sound so busy!! Keep working hard and have fun, too. :)  Oh, and do you happen to know a Douglas Elsmore or a Yoriko Manabe from your mission? They are one of my companion's parents. They both served in Japan around the same time as you, but I'm not sure which mission or exactly when. It'd be fun if you knew them.

Christina--Thank you for your letters each week! Don't worry about not being able to write last week. I totally understand. You are a busy chick! Congrats on the grades, being famous, ;) singing, biathlon, etc. You are such an amazing young woman. Mom sent me a pic of you. You look gorgeous! :)

Dad- No worries about last week. You sound like you're loving on call! ;) Ugh. Sounds like no fun. But it sounds like you have some fun times ahead of you though.

Thank you so much everyone for all your love and support! I pray for you all every day. I love you all! I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I love being His representative. I love being a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!


Sister Harston

 p.s. I attached some pics. My companios and I after this morning's temple trip, and another one of our district on Sunday when we got to go on a temple walk for an hour. Good times. :)


Ok... So I'm really lame and haven't posted Amy's emails for the past month or so.  So here I go!
This one is her email from October 30th. Enjoy! - Stephanie Hodges

Kamusta pamilya at mga kaibigan!!! :) (Tyler, Amy's brother - who already served a mission in the Philippines, translated this for me.  It says: How are the family and friends?)
Thank you again for all the letters and prayers. It has been another amazing week here at the MTC. Wow, I only have about 3 weeks left here! How crazy is that??? I will probably be getting my flight plans in about a week! Ahhh!! I am so excited, but I don't feel ready yet! There is still so much to learn.

This week I have had a mix of emotions coursing through me. The older districts that were in before us just left yesterday, so it's been really weird seeing them packing and emptying their rooms. There were a bunch of sisters that left! I miss them all so much already! I am super excited for them, but at the same time I was sad to see them go. Some of them were crying, others were just plain excited, and others felt sick to their stomachs. But the overall feeling was that of excitement and anticipation. I'm sure they are all on planes right as I write this email!! So Mom, I think that answers your question about having any older districts here when I first came in. There were a bunch! I think the sister who had the biggest impact on me though was the coordinating sister, Sister Huddleston. The coordinating sister's calling was to love and serve the girls, and be aware of their needs. She went to various meetings with the Zone Leaders and branch presidency throughout the week and really made us feel loved. Every night before we all went to bed, she came in and chatted with us, sometimes very briefly, but we always counted on it. She helped us when we were struggling with things, gave us advice, and just loved us. She is AMAZING. I was really sad to see her go.

Me and my companions realized that with Sister Huddleston leaving, it meant that one of us would be called to be the new coordinating sister since we are the only "older district" now. They would call the new sister last Sunday. Saturday night, I said a prayer of thanks right before I went to bed, and asked Heavenly Father to strengthen whomever He chose to call. I knew it was a time consuming calling, and time is already a precious thing here because of the limited amount of it. I prayed for each of my companions, asking Him to strengthen them if they were called. I also told Him their strengths and why they would be amazing at the calling. But I also told Him I would be willing to do whatever He wanted if for some reason He chose me. I didn't think it likely, seeing my companions strengths and wonderful qualities, but I told Him I would dedicate my life to Him if He did call me. I felt at peace knowing that God does not make mistakes, and I didn't have to worry about anything. I slept soundly that night.

was an exciting, sad day since it was the older district's last sacrament meeting here at the MTC. After breakfast, our district was studying in our classroom, preparing for various lessons and talks and reading our scriptures. I love Sundays. :)  One of the branch president members came in and called one of the elders out, and then called me out when he was finished talking to the Elder. I thought it was probably just another interview like each of us missionaries often have each week, but I was wrong. I almost started crying when he told me they were calling me to be the new coordinating sister. I felt overwhelmed, humbled, and strengthened all at the same time. I knew what I had promised Heavenly Father the night before, and I wasn't going to let Him down. I accepted, and went to my first meetings that day. We were invited to love the missionaries that we were looking out for and to set the tone/example for the district. That night, as I went to my residence hall, I got to visit with each of the newer sisters. It was hard to jump out of my comfort zone at first, but as I did, I felt a huge love for them! These sisters are truly amazing daughters of God. Last night as I visited with them for a short time again, I felt an overwhelming love for them. I didn't know I could love this much!! Last night a couple of the sisters were struggling and I felt prompted to share a bit of advice with them and remind them of something that I had been taught. As I did, their fears seemed lessened, and I knew that the Spirit was teaching them and testifying. I am still overwhelmed a bit with the calling. It definitely takes time and sacrifices, but it is so worth it.

It always amazes me at how much Heavenly Father cares for each one of us and knows our needs. He definitely knows us better than we know ourselves, and will stretch us in ways we never thought possible. But we can do it with His help
because He is helping us!!! I love this gospel! I love my Savior, and I feel my His love more than I ever have. I love missionary work, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve my Heavenly Father!!

"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God. -Mosiah 2:17

I know this is true!! I love you all!!!

Sister Harston

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hey everyone! This is last week's email, October 23, 2012. She's doing so well! I'll add the pictures that she sent when I figure out how to put them up! :)

Hello my dear family and friends!

Wow, I have less than a month left! Crazy. It has been yet another wonderful week. Ever since that experience last week of Elder Vandyke reminding me to trust more in the Spirit, I have really felt an improvement. I am still struggling with the language a bit, but I have felt the Spirit in even greater abundance than I did before. As we have taught our investigators, we have had greater unity in our teaching, and we have had some great lessons. It's amazing how the Spirit does the teaching. We have a very simple and limited vocabulary, but we are learning to trust in the Spirit and God will do the rest. We open our mouths, listen to the Spirit, and say what we feel they need to hear. It has had an amazing effect. Our investigators can feel it, too. They are starting to become excited about the gospel and want to find out if it is true for themselves. It is so exciting!! I have really been working on focusing outward. I realized that I am too selfish, and I need to change. I've been praying a lot lately to help me think only of others and their needs, and look for opportunities to serve. When we are studying, (so...that means all the time), :) I am learning to think of our investigator's needs. As I prayerfully ponder on the messages of the scriptures, I am receiving greater insights and am being taught about how I can help others or what I need to work on.

We are now the ones that the younger districts come ask questions to. It's kind of fun, helping them and trying to give them tips that we wish we had known earlier so they can become the best missionaries ever. We are all striving to be the best that we can. We had a district meeting last night with the Zone leaders, and our zone leader talked about raising the bar and striving to be perfectly obedient. I was so excited to see all the elders in our district raise their hands with us sisters! We are making it more of a goal to follow every little rule, including no large gatherings in the residence halls, and observing quiet time at 10:15pm, lights out at 10:30pm. It has been a really big struggle for the elders sometimes, but they agreed to work on it and committed to be perfectly obedient to the best of their ability. Our district can have a hard time focusing at times, so I'm hoping that this will help them focus. I am worried about one of our elders though. He told us he was very unattached to the church for several years, but came back recently. His testimony is still wavering, and I don't think he understands his purpose for being out here yet. I'm hoping and praying that he will soon have a change of heart and be able to understand why he's here and the purpose of missionary work. If you could, please pray for Elder Hawkins. I'd appreciate it a lot. I know God can give miracles when people have faith. I love all our elders and I want the best for them.

I want to send a special thanks to all of you, my family and friends. Thank you for the letters and emails every week. You have no idea how much that means to me. It is always a special treat to get mail. If you want to do a special bit of service, feel free to send one or more of my companions or elders from my district letters or quick notes. I know it would make their day. They all have the same address as I do, just change the name obviously. Here is a list of the names:  Sister Campbell, Sister Elsmore, Elder Cox, Elder Watters, Elder Hawkins, and Elder Vandyke. It could just be something very simple and short, but I know it would make their days. :)  Just an idea.

As I was studying the Plan of Salvation with my companions one of the days this week, we read D&C 138. It is AMAZING!!!! I love how God is so merciful to His children. He has a plan for us! We can again return to live with him with our families for ETERNITY if we follow Christ, keep God's commandments and accept His gospel! How amazing! And EVERYONE will have a chance to hear it in this either in this life or after we die. I just get so excited when I think about it. Heavenly Father love each one of us so much!!! I love Him, and I love His son, Jesus Christ. I love this gospel, and how incredibly simple it is. I am forever grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ for being willing to take our sins upon Him. Without Him and without repentance through the Atonement, it would be impossible to return to Heavenly Father's presence for "no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God." But we can!!! I stand all amazed.

I love you all!! Thank you for all your prayers and support. I pray for you all every day.

All my love,
Sister Harston

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

And here's this week's email from Amy: 
Now I'm ready for this week's email. :)
I am reaching the "one month" mark on Wednesday!! That's so crazy! I'll be in the Philippines in just over a month! That's such an exciting thought, but a scary one at the same time! I still have so much to learn for the doctrine and for the language especially.
Oh, Mom, here's the answer to your lastest question:
No, actually I don't need any more cardboard frames. In fact, I'll probably send the ones you gave me back home before I leave. I picked up a small photo album at the bookstore that is small and will hold quite a few pictures. I think it will protect the pictures from the humidity more, too. Thank you so much for sending those though! I'll definitely send the wooden frame home before I go.
Back to the letter. :)
I have had several "Aha" moments this week as I've been studying the language. It's going to take a lot more practice though. I don't have that much time left, and I'm really starting to feel the pressure. Me and my companions are making it a goal to do SYL (Speak Your Language) as much as possible. We taglish things a lot, but we try to use as much tagalog as we can. I think that will really help a lot. We've also had some very good lessons with our investigators this week, especially with Nel in particular. It happened after a lot of struggling. One evening last week I wasn't feeling the best, I was tired, and I was having a hard time thinking. I was trying to organize what I wanted to say to our other investigator, Mary Kate, but I had a really difficult time translating what I wanted to say to Tagalog. When I finally got it translated, I was desperately trying to memorize the sentences, but it just wasn't clicking for some reason. I was slowly getting it, but I wasn't feeling what I was saying. I was getting more and more frustrated with myself for being frustrated, which made me even more frustrated. It was a downward cycle. I was in the classroom writing my sentences out on the board for practice, when one of the elders said something to the effect of: "You're trying to memorize too much. Trust in the Spirit, and you'll be guided with what to say." That's not an exact quote, but something very similar to that. I felt like I had been socked in the stomach. He was completely right. I was memorizing phrases, not really thinking about what my investigator needed to hear. I really needed to hear that. That lesson went a little rough, but I went back to my residence that night with a determination to follow the spirit and think of the people I was teaching. The next day, I prepared enough to know how to teach what I wanted, but I mostly followed the spirit. Wow! What a difference. That lesson went the smoothest I think it has ever gone for me, and I was able to better understand him as he spoke! Miracles DO happen, and I know that we can witness them when we do what is right and follow the spirit. I am so grateful for that elder, Elder Vandyke for saying that to me. I am now more determined to teach the people, not just the lessons. They need to feel for themselves. That is how true conversion happens.
Every tuesday night here at the MTC, we have a devotional where all the missionaries gather in a huge room and listen to a great speaker. The last few weeks we have been blessed to hear from members of the 70! They have been amazing devotionals. But last week tuesday, we got a special treat. We had a visit from Elder Bednar from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles!!! It was soooo awesome! It was fun to see his more relaxed personality.
Random note... I found out that I am related to one of the elders in our district! Elder Vandyke's 6th great grandfather is William Clayton, who wrote "Come, Come, Ye Saints", and he's my 4th great grandfather! Awesome! So we are cousins!! :) Fun.
Anyway, time's up, but I want you all to know how much I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate example, and I want to become more like Him. I love being able to represent Him daily as I study and prepare to teach the people in the Philippines. I love you all!
Sister Harston
Here's last weeks letter from Amy! There was a little mix-up, but we still were able to get last weeks. :)

Kamusta po kayo pamilya ko at mga kaibigan?!!
Thank you again for all your prayers, letters, quick notes, emails, and packages. It really means a lot. I want to appologize for the mix-up last week. I wrote a long email, even loaded some pictures, and sent it. But when I checked my email today, I saw that it had failed to send. I think there were too many pictures on it. If I have time, I'll try to send a couple this time. Sorry again for the mix-up. I'll send another email, but here's last week's:
Hello my wonderful family!!!

Kamusta po kayo??? I miss you all! The MTC is wonderful. I am so blessed to be here right now! Was General Conference wonderful, or WHAT??? Oh my goodness. If any of you haven't gotten a chance to watch some or any of it, I'd really encourage you to do so. You can go on, and there should be a link to the General Conference talks. Do it!! They are amazing!! So the official age for young men and women to serve missions has been lowered. Young men can now serve at age 18 instead of 19, and young women can serve at age 19 instead of 21. WOW. It gives me chills just thinking about it. The missionary force is going to increase dramatically. They are going to have additional housing added to the MTC to compensate for the soon-to-be increasing numbers of missionaries. So exciting. :) Saturday and Sunday were both wonderful days. We were very tired of sitting, but we were super spiritually uplifted that whole weekend. I know there is a prophet who leads and guides Christ's church today, and that there are modern day apostles, too. General Conference is a testament of that. They are inspired men. I know that God still loves His people today so he restored His church through the prophet Joseph Smith. That is so amazing to me! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And Mom, yes, I agree. Technology is amazing.

Christina, good for you for being modest at your Homecoming dance. It is hard to find anything modest these days, but you really stand out. I remember a time when I went to a high school dance, and me and my friends really stood out for being modest. People respect that, too. You show that you know you are a daughter of God. :) Also, good luck on your choir concert(s)! You will do amazing!!

Tell Grandpa and Grandma Yeates I say hi and miss them!! Give them hugs for me!

I love the temple. Today is Pday, and we get to go to the temple bright and early every Tuesday morning. It is a perfect way to start out the day. We actually decided to try out the cafeteria in the temple today. It was delicious! We're going to have to go again sometime. Today we've been doing laundry, studying, and writing letters. I'm going to try to send you a couple pics if I can figure it out on this computer. I want to show you what my companions look like!! They are awesome.

Speaking of my companions, Sister Campbell is really feeling a lot better now. She still has a little cough hanging on, but she has her energy back which is nice. Dad, to answer your question, yes, we did have to sit with her when she took that nap last week, but luckily it was Pday so we were in our room anyways writing letters and studying. It worked out perfectly.

We are learning a lot here. We learn a few new concepts every day, adding to our knowledge. I am studying like crazy and still struggling to keep up at times. But it's coming, slowly but surely. I have 6 weeks left to get this down as well as I can before leaving for the Philippines! 6 weeks isn't long, but I know I can do anything with the Lord's help. I am sooo excited to keep moving forward! I love that I can trust Heavenly Father to help me, and that I can EXPECT answers to my prayers if I am doing my part and asking him with real intent. "I am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, you have no promise." (I can't remember the reference right now, but it's a beautiful scripture.) I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love this gospel, and I am learning new things every day as I immerse myself in the scriptures. I am learning how it is to really be humble and trust in the Spirit. We are teaching two investigators now: Nel and Mary Kate. They are in totally different situations in life, and we are learning to trust in the Spirit to know what to say, and to know what they need. I love them! I can feel my love for the people in the Philippines already, and I haven't even met them. I know that Heavenly Father is preparing people over there to hear His gospel and accept it. I love this gospel so much! I want to share it with everyone. I get more and more excited the more I learn here in the MTC. The gospel is so incredibly simple, and so beautiful. God loves his people. He wants us to learn and grow and return to Him. He even sent His son, Jesus Christ to come down and atone for our sins so that we can again enter into His presence some day. What great love.

I love you all so very much. Thank you for all your prayers, letters, support, and love.


Sister Harston

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Well Hello my lovely family!! (And friends!)  :)

Thank you for all the prayers and support! Thank you for all the letters, too! They always make my day even that much better. :)  I am definitely getting into the routine of things here. A typical day goes close to as follows:
6:30am wake up, get ready
7am daily planning
7:30-7:45am additional study time
7:45am breakfast
8:20-11:20am class
11:20am-11:45am Language study/personal study time
11:45am-12:20pm Lunch
12:20pm- goes on like that. I don't have enough time to write the entire day out, but every minute is for something. I am really learning to manage my time. We have small daily planners so we can keep track of the time. I don't know what I would do without a watch now! I use it ALL the time!! We have to use every spare time for studying, because as you can see, there isn't a whole lot of spare time. :)

This week has been really great, except one of my companions, Sister Campbell got pretty sick yesterday. She slept for 3 or 4 hours today and we took her to the doctor to get her some medicine. She's just now starting to feel better.  I'm crossing my fingers that I don't get it! I hear things like this spread like crazy here. (Oh, and to answer Briana's question...yes, my other companion, Sister Elsmore's first name is Mandy! How awesome that you know her! She is extremely optimistic. She's a great companion, and a crack up.) :)

This past Sunday was the MTC Conference. All the missionaries met in a huge room and we had a great meeting. The Spirit was super strong! One brother who spoke said a quote that really hit me, talking about obedience. "Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles." What an amazing promise!! It's so true though! I have really been working on being exactly obedient this week, including having lights out and being in bed AT 10:30pm. I definitely need the Lord's help to learn this language this quickly. Only 7 weeks left in the MTC! That seems like such a long time, but it really isn't!  Oh, and to answer Jerry's question about the Temple Dedication the Sunday was beautiful!! I am so blessed to be here in the MTC at a time when I can experience such great things. Next week Sunday is General Conference, and I can't wait! I love an idea that I heard about it. If you have any questions, write them down and pray that you'll have them answered. Bring your questions to General Conference, and listen for the answers. You will receive answers! I know that. I challenge you to try it out! I'm going to.

I have amazing teachers. They are so full of the Spirit and love for us and for the gospel. I look up to them a lot. Sister Lewis, (I think I mentioned her before), has such a sweet spirit about her. She has a way of bringing the Spirit into the lessons/discussions, yet having a great sense of humor. She keeps the Elders under control. :) We now have a second teacher, Brother Roxas. We found out he was our teacher just this week. He is our investigator, Nel!! Wow, that was a turn of events. We were  not expecting that at all. We still teach him as an investigator during the week, but he's also our teacher. Haha. Kinda confusing, but it's true. We are now teaching 2 investigators.

I am so grateful to be a missionary! I am grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow and help bring others to Christ! I love this gospel so much. When we put our trust in the Lord, we can do anything! I love you all so much!!

~Sister Harston

P.S. I'll send a written letter home to answer the rest of your questions. Sorry, but I ran out of time. We only get 30 mins to read/write/add pics/etc. I'll see if I can send some pics next week! :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sister Amy Harston's First Email Home!!!!!

Kamusta po kayo??? (How are you all???)

I am loving the Missionary Training Center(MTC)! I don't think I've ever studied so much in my entire life. :) The spirit is so strong here each and every day. I am learning so much! My first couple of days were wonderful, yet a bit overwhelming. I met my two companions, (yes, 2), and I love them both. Their names are Sister Campbell and Sister Elsmore. Sister Campbell is actually Filipino, but moved here to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She doesn't remember the language at all so she's learning from the beginning like the rest of us. My other companion, Sister Elsmore is half Japanese and speaks close to fluent Japanese. She was born here in the U.S. and was really surprised to get her mission call to the Philippines. I have a lot of respect for both of them. Our instructor, Sister Lewis, is fabulous. Her Tagalog is beautiful, and she has a great Filipino accent when speaking Tagalog from what I can tell. I have learned so much since being here at the MTC. I can already say simple sentences, and I'm increasing my vocabulary each day. Our zone leaders recently came in and told us they had "raised the bar" for our zone. It is our goal to memorize 50 words a day and 20 new phrases a day. It's hard and a lot of work, but it's amazing how much you can learn when you have the Lord on your side. thanks to Tyler, I ca pronounce just about any word they throw at us. It has really been a blessing to be able to help my companions and the elders in my district pronounce words. There are a lot of gringo accents in our group. :) I think my favorite word in Tagalog right now is faith, or pananampalataya. There are a lot of fun ones like that. :)

Not only has the MTC been great place for studying the language, but it has also been a great place to learn and study more about the gospel. We have multiple "personal study" times set apart throughout the day where we get to read the scriptures, ponder, write down impressions, read Preach my Gospel, etc. We get to focus our attention to our Savior Jesus Christ and on His teachings. Also, me and my companions are already teaching an investigator, Nel. Nel is Filipino and is interested in the church, and his main interest is the to see how the church would help his family. That's fantastic news because families are very central to God's church! There sis so much we want to share with him, but we have one limitation...our vocabulary is so limited! We are teaching him about the gospel in Tagalog. We first met with him on Friday, so two days after we arrived. Nel doesn't hardly speak or understand English, so we have to do our best in Tagalog. He is so sincere in his desires and questions, and we want to tell him everything about the gospel and how it would make him and his family so happy. We have taught him 3 times now, and we will again tomorrow. We want so badly to communicate with him more and let him know that Heavenly Father loves him. He can be with his family for forever!! He can have peace and joy with him each and ever y day. This gospel brings so much joy! As we've been teaching Nel, I can feel Heavenly Father's love for us and for Nel. Nel, just like everyone else in this world is a child of God. I want him to know that and understand what what means. I love being a missionary~ I can't wait to go teach the people in the Philippines!!

Our district right now consists of 4 elders and 3 sisters. Our district leader is Elder Cox, his companion is Elder Watters, and the other two elders are Elder Vandike and Elder Hawkins. They are all awesome. They are definitely just big
boys. They are all 19 years old, and very young, but they are also spiritual giants. We are all growing together like a little family away from home. It's a lot of fun.

I got to go to the temple this morning, and I'll get to every Tuesday, (my pday). I'm so excited! It's such a great way to start the day. I love this church, I love my family and friends, I love life, I love the MTC, and most importantly, I love my Savior and I know that He loves me. I don't remember the last time I have felt so much joy, so much peace, and so much love for everyone around me. I have always felt love for people, but that has multiplied since I've been here. I love this gospel with all my heart. I love being a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

Thank you for all the letters and packages! Yes, Mom and Christina, I
did get the package. I picked right after I sent the letter to you. Thank you so much! My companions love all the goodies. There is soooo much!! :) I love you all!!


Sister Harston
Here's how to send mail or packages to Amy in the MTC (Missionary Training Center):

1.  email - Her email address is:

Amy can receive emails, but can only send one email/week to her family.  I will forward that email to all of you.  She will have to reply to your emails via postal mail.

2.  Write or send packages via the postal service.  Her MTC address is:

Sister Amy Nichole Harston
PHI - QUE 1120  (letters need to be all capital letters)
2005 North 900 East
Provo, Utah   84604-1793

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I have decided to start a blog in which I will share my experiences as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and how I came to the decision to serve a mission. I will not have access to the blog while I am serving, but my twin sister, Stephanie said she would be willing to keep it up for me while I'm gone. She will post my letters and a few pictures to keep you updated. :) I am excited to serve!

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, young men are strongly encouraged to serve a full-time mission (2 years for young men) when they are 19 years old, or in some cases, a little bit older. Young men in the church often grow up knowing they will serve a mission when they become of age, and they know it is their responsibility and duty to serve. For young women, however, there is no clear "Go" or "Don't Go." Families are an important part of our Heavenly Father's plan, so if they decide to marry or continue with school or follow their various plans, they can. Or, they can choose to serve a full time mission (18 months for young women). It was very difficult for me to decide whether or not to serve a mission, and to try to figure out what Heavenly Father wanted for me. I knew it would be a year and a half of my life, and that seemed like quite a long time, and I was concerned about school. I prayed intently asking Heavenly Father what he wanted me to do, but I was still unsure. I wasn't receiving my answer as quickly as I had hoped. I read my scriptures, prayed, went to church faithfully, went to the temple, etc. I thought I was doing all that I could do. I still wasn't getting my answer. I knew I would love to serve a mission, but I also knew I had a lot of schooling left, and a mission could jeopardize some of the time I had. I decided to talk to my bishop to see if he had any advice. I scheduled a time to talk with him, and told him my dilemma. When I entered his office, I secretly hoped he might make the decision for me and tell me whether I should or should not go. He listened carefully, and then, as I expected, did not decide for me, but instead counseled with me and gave me advice. He said that he believed I would be a good missionary, but that it wasn't necessarily the choice for me. I had to decide that for myself. He suggested that I counsel with my father and make a list of "pros" and "cons." I left his office feeling no less settled about my decision than I did when I entered. Instead of talking with my father at the beginning, I thought about it on my own and decided I'd better just stay home and continue with my school instead of a mission. I told my bishop in passing that I had decided not to go, to which he paused, and asked me if I had talked with my father yet. I replied that I had not, but that I thought I didn't need to go after all. He only said, "talk to your dad, and then we'll talk again." His reaction/response left me even more befuddled. I thought I knew, but suddenly I felt very unsure. Obviously I was not sure about my decision. I decided to take my bishop's advice and called my dad. I went down and visited him, and we had a really good talk. We made a list of the "pros of serving a mission" and the "pros of NOT serving a mission." As I wrote the list, I realized how lopsided the list was, heavy on the "pros of serving" side. My dad then shared a couple scriptures with me that he felt prompted to share: Doctrine and Covenants 4:3-4.

 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

I have to admit, when I read these verses, I started crying like a baby. Verse 3 struck me in particular. I definitely had the desire to serve God. I was "called to the work." After reading this and talking with my dad, I was 99.9% positive that I was going to serve a mission. But there was still that 0.1% bit of doubt. I was so stubborn! Later that night, (Sunday), I saw a friend who had recently returned from serving a mission. I told her about my situation, and how I wasn't 100% sure if I should serve a mission or not. She looked at me and said, "Go. Just Go. GO." She talked about how much she had loved her mission and shared her testimony with me. After that conversation, I knew I had to just decide. I had to stop asking if it was right or not in my prayers, but instead put my faith in Heavenly Father and take a leap of faith. If it wasn't the right choice, I had to trust God to stop me. At that moment, I made up my mind. I was going to serve a mission. 

I went home and told my Mom and Stepdad that I had made a decision that night. I was going to serve a full-time mission. As soon as I said it, I felt this warm feeling spread through my entire body. I knew Heavenly Father approved. I knew I had made the right choice. This is what Heavenly Father wanted for me. My mom and stepdad supported my decision all the way. Shortly afterwards, I called my dad and told him as well, to which he gave his full support.

Since that time I have filled out all my paperwork, and submitted it to Salt Lake City for my assignment to be made. I waited in suspense for a couple of weeks, interrupted twice with phone calls asking for more information. They finally had the completed package, and the decision was made. I waited in suspense, checking the mail box every day. That Thursday, I knew my mission call had to arrive. I checked my mail box three times before the mail finally arrived. When the mail came, I opened it, hardly breathing, heart pumping. When I reached in a grabbed the mail, I almost screamed with excitement. The big white envelope addressed to "Sister Amy Nichole Harston" had arrived!! My call had come!! I wanted so badly to open it right then and there to see where I was called to serve, but I knew I wanted my family to experience it with me. I had to wait until they got off work or finished school, etc. I set the envelope on the counter and waited. It seemed like forever for everyone to get home. When everyone was finally there, we put my dad and sister on speakerphone so they could "be there," too. :)

I was so nervous!! I opened the envelope slowly, the tears already starting to flow. (I'm a crier if you can't tell yet). The spirit was so strong. As I began to read, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love from my Heavenly Father. 

"Dear Sister Harston:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Philippines Quezon City Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Tagalog language. Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission president...."

Wow, I would be speaking Tagalog!! I am going to the Philippines!!! That is where God needs me. As I read the letter, it just felt RIGHT. That is where I am needed. I love God, and he has done so much for me. How could I NOT be willing to serve him full-time for 18 months? I am so indebted to Him. This is the least I can do. I am looking forward to serving his children in the Philippines and bringing His gospel to the Filipino people.

I can't wait to serve. The time is drawing near rather quickly. I have 20 days until I enter the MTC (Mission Training Center) now. :) Crazy!! I am so excited.