Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Week 9: 2 months

Wow!! WHAT A WEEK. First of all, I HIT MY 2 MONTH MARK!!! Haha can you believe it?? I can't! It's crazy how fast time goes, but it's so true that time flies when you're having fun :)
So, the Lord has been SO merciful this week. I can't thank Him enough for all that He has blessed me with. Especially with the language. And I don't even know where to begin!! I have been able to understand SO much more this week it is an absolute miracle!! I can't understand all the investigators obviously, but Heavenly Father has allowed me to understand a couple people at a time, and then as the days have gone on, another person, and then another. Just this morning at our District Meeting I was about to understand 90% of what was said. LIKE WHAAAT?! And this is not me, this is all Heavenly Father!! And I thank Him every moment I can. Even when I'm in a lesson and can understand 2 sentences (because believe me, that still happens), I thank Him. And He still continues to bless us!! It's amazing! Just the other night we were teaching 2 investigators. They are a married couple in about their late 50's. And the husband has a super hard time walking and he actually has one arm too! This was our 3rd time teaching them and we taught them the Restoration. The first time we felt prompted to talk a little about the Plan of Salvation, and then the next time we actually had a member come and give the husband a blessing for his health and especially for his legs. Wow there is just so much to say about them!! I remember the first time I felt like they were just being nice and listening to us because they believed in God too, but last night when we visited them, I saw the miracles that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings!! When we sat down and asked the husband how he was feeling after the blessing (which was given only 2 days before) the wife started to go off about how he has been walking around the house and that she has had to tell him to slow down because he is walking so fast!! AND without his braces on his legs. AHH!! And that Sunday morning when he was walking, he told his wife that he wanted to go to our church but they weren't able to that morning (we are hoping for next week)! And also, the first time, from what I was observing, they seemed kind of distant from each other and the husband didn't say much. But THIS time, oh my gosh the sweetest thing happend!! They were sitting on opposite ends of the couch and while the wife was talking, the husband slowly brought his hand over to his wifes and just held it. I about died!!! And then she had gotten up to grab something and when she sat back down she sat down right next to him!!!!! They were both just smiling and holding hands and I just wanted to cry right there!! I felt the spirit the ENTIRE lesson!!! They were so receptive and they really understand the importance of finding out for themselves. They are incredible! And then get this, so I teach different parts of the first lesson and usually I have to use the pamphlet to help me. But for some reason, I just felt like I should just put it away. So I did, not knowing what I was doing hahaha and when it was my turn to teach, I just taught. WHAT?! I seriously don't even remember what I said, I just opened my mouth!! And Hna Sosa told me after that the way I taught was so perfect!!! Ok, remember, my Spanish isn't perfect haha, I know it isn't and it definitely wasn't during the lesson!! But we don't have to be perfect teachers, we just need to invite the perfect teacher. And I know that the Spirit was there during that lesson. We are hoping to give them a baptismal date this week!!!
Speaking of baptismal dates, we have 3 for the 14th of June!!!!!!!! AHHH!!!! 2 of them are the dad (J) and daughter (S) that we have been teaching and the other is an older man we have been teaching (P). J and S have been coming to church, but sadly P hasn't been, so we'll see how everything goes with them! We have been working super hard to prepare them and we hope that they keep up with their commitments. That has been something that has been hard, is people keeping commitments. Especially this past week at church because we planned to have 7 people come to church and 4 little kids as well, and we had arranged rides for everyone, but only 2 came. It's kind of frustrating sometimes, but we have to keep working and trust in the Lord and His plan!
So I'm pretty sure my mission this week was a musical hahaha let me explain!! First of all, it rains everyday, but at random moments the sun will come out just a little bit! Haha so I started singing to my companion, "The sun will come out TOMORROW!!" And she had no idea where that was from!! Haha I was so sad!! But I still sing it to her :) Second, we were visiting with one of our neighbors and we asked her if we could start with a hymn. She then asked if we knew a certain hymn, so she started to sing! I kid you not, she sounded exactly like a mixture between Julie Andrews and Snow White!!! Hahaha she is seriously the sweetest thing, but it was SO funny!!! I loved it. And then, we were contacting and this super duper old lady was outside her house throwing food into the street, and I don't think I've seen so many birds in my entire life in one spot!! And all I could think was "Feed the birds.."hahaha from Mary Poppins. Next (yes, I'm not done!) me and my companion were talking about our birthdays and my companion is going to be 22, so I sung "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22!!" And my companion just stared at me. She doesn't know who Taylor Swift is!!!!!!!!!! It was a sad day. Haha that was my musical week!!
Haha anyway, I wish I had more time to talk about the week, but my time is up!! I just want you all to know that I know without a doubt that this church is true. How blessed we are to have this knowledge!!!! I just can't even thank Heavenly Father enough for all the blessings He gives!! And as members of this church, we have something so special. And how grateful I am to be a missionary and to be able to share this with every person I meet and in a language I am still learning!! Haha it's a wonderful thing!! Have a great week everyone!!

Hermana Holt

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 8: San Sebastian-beautiful and rainy

Hola everyone!!

Another week has come and gone so fast!! I don't have much time to write this week, but I do have a couple things to share! Well, the Spanish is coming along haha slowly still but surely. I can understand my companion basically most of the time which is great! But I'm still having a hard time understanding the people!! Which is really important! Haha but I have to keep reminding myself that I've only been out 2 weeks!

First, it rains like CRAZY here!!! And it rains everyday!! There are some days where it is all sun and super hot, but it'll rain at some point in the day! The other day it was raining so hard that me and my companion had to run under a patio with basketball courts and wait for it to calm down a little bit! And to add to that, this place is all hills haha it's a major workout with a nice shower! Also, I don't think I've seen so many dogs in my entire life. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs, but not 8 of them barking at you everytime you walk by!! Hahaha oh mi madre there is this one dog, seriously it is so small but I don't know why, it's vicious!!! It bites at our feet and everything and it does NOT leave us alone! And my companion is a little scared of dogs haha so I have to be the protector!! But worse than the dogs is the mosquitos. No matter how much insect repellent you put on, they still eat you alive! But this is all part of the experience, so I love every minute of it!! :)

So this past week we had a lot of appointments planned, but most of them fell through which was a little hard. But we still met some awesome people and taught a lot of first visit lessons! As of now we have 4 investigators that are progressing and I think it was 12 new investigators! There are so many people who need the Gospel here in San Sebastian!! I am just so humbled and so grateful for the opportunity I have to work here and to be a missionary! It's not easy, but it's worth it!! We also got a list of the ward members this week and after going through all the names (which is more than 100 members) most of those 100 are inactive or menos activos. Crazy right? So we are going to be working a lot with the ward too! But this week was a lot better with people at church, there was about 50 or so! So that was great!

So my experience!! We contacted this Dad and a daughter and went back to visit them and it went pretty well!! The daughter was a lot more receptive, but they are both super sweet! It was crazy because my companion asked the daughter that when she prayed and knew that this message was true if she would be baptized!! And she said she would!! So that's exciting!! So we invited them both to church but the dad wasn't exactly giving the daughter permission because of her health. We were so bummed but told him to think about it and that we would stop by the next morning, sunday morning. So we got to their house around 8:45 (church starts at 9) and the son answered the door and said they weren't home. I was so sad! So we walked to the church from there and my companion mentioned, I wonder if they left already for the church. In my mind I wasn't too sure but the next thing that happened was a miracle!! There she was sitting in RS!!!!!!!! (We have RS first) And the dad was in Priesthood!!! Like what?!? I was SO happy!!! And I felt so bad for the little bit of doubt that I had.. miracles do happen though! I couldn't understand fully what they said after haha but I think they liked it and we are meeting with them again this week! AH! I love this.

OH! I forgot to add something to my address too.. so here it is!

Calle Fermina Hernandez #14
Bario Culebrinas, San Sebastian
Puerto Rico 00685

Have a great week everyone!!

Hermana Holt

beautiful San Sebastian

Hermana Cole

hiding from the rain

mi companera Hermana Sosa

Mi Mama hits her 9 month mark

Mother's Day treat

my desk


No big deal! Just riding with the Zwick's from the airport

My great temptation

the best looking missionaries

we were left with a big mess.  Thanks Elders

The view from my porch.  It's a jungle out there!

What a hot day looks like

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Week 7: San Sebastian, Puerto Rico

Hola de San Sebastián!!

Before I begin, I hope all the mothers had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday!! Of course, shout out to my beautiful mama and also to my little sister Megan who turned 9 on Saturday!! Feliz Cumpleaños!! :)

I'm here!! In Puerto Rico!!! WOW. What a crazy week it has been already!! I don't even know where to start. Oh, how about with, Elder Zwick and his wife are our temporary Presidents?!? What!! They are AMAZING people, I can't even get over it!! All of us thought it was Zivic, but when President Zwick walked into the airport I thought to myself, that's not Elder Zivic. Hahaha but seriously!! They are absolutely incredible!! So that first day we just went to the Mission Home, got a little orientation and ate, and then we were off to meet our companions!! Oh and also, since the whole Mission President thing was such a quick change, President Zwick arranged for every missionary in Puerto Rico to come together for a meeting!! Which apparenly has never been done before, so on Thursday, every single missionary in Puerto Rico met together!! How cool is that? There are like 200 of us I believe? But I got to see Elder Gallagher and Hermana Cole!! So that was so fun!! He just talked about the direction of the mission and gave us some awesome counsel!

My amazing companion (mi mama) is Hermana Sosa from Hondurus!! It has only been less than a week here and I've already learned SO much from her! She speaks a little bit of english which is nice sometimes haha :) but she has been in the mission for 9 months and is SO bold and talks to absolutely everyone! Which is amazing right?? Of course! Haha but at first it was terrible for me cause she would make me talk to everyone too - yeah, I thought I knew a little bit of Spanish.. yeah this isn't Spanish people!! Haha it's Puerto Rican Spanish!!! Haha really though, before the mission when people would tell me how fast they would speak and how they wouldn't really say their "s", it's SO true!!!! It's such a beautiful language though and I'll get it eventually haha!

Well, my beautiful area is San Sebastián! We live in a house underneath a members house and basically there is a jungle in my backyard! NO joke!! But with the jungle, comes many creatures... Heavenly Father obviously knows my fear of bugs.. especially spiders!! But these are huge spiders! Every night before you get into bed you have to shake out your sheets and then shake them again! Same with your clothes too! But it's all part of the experience, right? Haha anyway, so the first day that we came to the house, it was SO messy! Apparently the Elders before didn't clean anything up, and they didn't clean up any of the bugs! So we spent the whole day mostly in the kitchen emptying our the drawers and coupboards and everything haha! Oh and we get a lot of cochroaches too.. which almost tie on my list with spiders! Anyway, our area is pretty big and we just split it in half with the other companionship. We've mostly stayed close to the house but when we need to, the members above us are absolute angels and will give us rides!! They are so sweet! So there are 28 "barrios" here, which are like smaller areas inside one larger area I guess, but there is only one "barrio" in the whole area, which is a ward! Haha confusing right? But I love the ward, it's only about 20-25 people but they are so fun! They all think I speak Spanish or something and will always try and talk to me! And then I have to have that awkward conversation of how I've only been here for 5 days :) Haha it's great! But yeah, the bishopric introduced us in church and I had to speak so now they all know :) And, no one knows how to play the piano so I've been asked if I can do that too!! And for the primary!! It's going to be fun haha! But I really do love it here, good people!

So this area hasn't had sisters in a very long time apparently cause everytime we talk to people they are like, oh yeah we've talked to the guys in shirts and ties before but we didn't know that there were sister missionaries too hahaha yup, that's us now! And since all of us are new in the area, we had to basically start from scratch and we've been contacting for these past few days! Man, I just love the people here. And they are so receptive to listen!! But we'll see what happens when we actually start teaching the lessons! We are going to be so busy though, we have 8 new investigators and 12 appointments just this week!! Here we go, right?? Haha and wish me luck on the Spanish!!

Oh funny story!! So a lot of people here are Catholic and they really like to make it known to us haha so we were contacting the other day and we started talking to this lady who was on her patio and when we told her who we were she basically yelled at the top of her lungs, SOY CATOLICA!! Which is I am Catholic! Haha she was nice. Oh and some of the people here think I'm Puerto Rican (I must be getting tan already :)) and others think that my parents must be Puerto Rican haha either is good right?

Ok, so I learned something really important this week. Spanish is a little difficult. Ok it's really difficult sometimes! Haha well, for me anyway. I would sit in lessons and just try SO hard to concentrate on what they are saying and find myself only understanding 10%. Sometimes, nothing but a few words! I would constantly pray during the lessons too, just to understand a little bit, but nothing would come! But I know the Lord was trying to teach me something. And it's still a lesson in progress! First of all, He loves us! He wants us to succeed! He wants us to be happy! But, He also wants us to rely on Him! And I've realized that in times of difficulties, it's so important to never forget that. And, we need to try and recognize the tender mercies He gives us in our lives. They are everywhere!! As I've gone through this past week, and as I've tried my best to rely on Him, He has helped me recognize the little accomplishments. The little victories! After I bore my little testimony in Sacrament on Sunday, there was a visiting family there and the dad of the family had told me that for only 5 days, my Spanish is super good! Haha like what? That was something I definitely needed to hear, and Heavenly Father knew that! And also, never underestimate your potential!! We are all sons and daughters of God, can it get any better than that? Anyway, I hope everyone has such a wonderful week!! Not sure what the weather is like in the States right now, but it rains all the time here!!

Hermana Holt 

Elder Gallagher
(his sister is married to my cousin)

President and Sister Zwick

The newest missionaries

Dear Brother and Sister Holt,
We are so delighted to send you this photo of your amazing missionary. It was wonderful to receive Sister Holt, and especially satisfying to extend a warm welcome to the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.
Your missionary and your entire family will be blessed, as promised by the Lord in Section 31 of the Doctrine and Covenents:
“I will bless you and your family… and they will be one with you..”
Thank you for your trust. We assure you that we will take very good care of your precious daughter. The people of this wonderful mission will love Sister Holt, and we know that she will be deserving of that love and respect.
This weekend is Mother’s Day, therefore you can expect a phone call from your missionary. We encourage you to be available for that call .
May you be blessed with the joy that comes from applying the teachings of the Savior in your lives. There will be much growth that takes place here during Sister Holts mission. You will be able to experience it through the correspondence which you receive each week. We encourage you to also write each week in order to provide the moral courage and strength from home which is vitally important.
May you continue to be blessed in every meaningful way. We truly love Sister Holt with our whole hearts.


President and Sister Zwick

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Week 6: Adios Dominican Republic, Welcome to Puerto Rico

missionaries leaving the CCM

Final prayer circle

Dear Brother and Sister Holt ,

Sister Swick and I were happy to personally greet Sister Holt when she arrived in Puerto Rico.  

I'm pleased to report she and her companion, prayerfully selected, are already working effectively in their area.  As two missionaries labor together in this great work they bless one another's lives.  They both grow as a result of their individual strengths. 

Missionary work, can be both physically and emotionally demanding.  Your daughter will be a part of miracles in the lives of those she finds and teaches.She will come to love the work and the people. You will share that development process as it occurs.

Your letters; sent regularly, can be a source of great motivation and encouragement.  We have asked her to write home faithfully every week.  Her correspondence with you will be via e-mail, if that is your desire. 

 We want you to know how grateful we are to be serving with her . May your entire family be strengthened by her service to the Lord.

With much Love,

President and Sister Swick Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Week 5: One month down, 17 to go

Happy One Month Anniversary??
Can you believe that it has been one whole month already?!? I can't... it has been the fastest but slowest month of my entire life!! And the fact that I only have 17 left is so sad to me! I LOVE being a missionary!! And the real fun hasn't even begun yet! So I'm sure you guys are dying to hear my proselyting experience hahaha it was AWESOME!!!! I loved everything about it!! Ok, yes it was super frustrating at times with the Spanish because I'm pretty sure I had a "Best Two Years" moment!! You remember?? ...."That's not the language they taught me in the MTC..." HAHA it's true people. My companions name was Hermana Glauser from Utah and she has been out a year! So cute and so fun to be with! We met with some members and then a less active!! The first lady we met, oh me madre I couldn't understand one word!! It all sounded like one word ahahah I'm pretty sure she barely breathed while she was speaking! That's how fast it was!! I just kinda nodded my head and smiled hahaha the only thing that I knew was that the spirit was there! Thank goodness for that right?? The next house we went to was the bishop of the ward and I understood a lot more!! It made me feel a little bit better about myself haha! The last visit was the most humbling, amazing experience. This lady was a less active, but seriously had the sweetest spirit. She lives in this literally 2 bedroom house (as in one room had her bed and the other was the kitchen) and she had buckets around the house catching the water coming through the ceiling. We started with a hymn that we sung to her (I realized that these missionaries start every lesson with a hymn, HOW cool is that??) and the Spirit was instantly there. My companion shared a scripture and after all I could do was testify, so I did! I'm not sure if what I said was grammatically correct, but that doesn't matter. The Spirit was there. I definitely learned something from that small visit! I could study spanish for months and months and speak perfect spanish in my lessons, but if the Spirit isn't there, it doesn't matter!! The Spirit is the best teacher, not me!! It is only my job to bring the Spirit, to invite him into the lessons! That's when the miracles happen. How grateful I am for the power of the Holy Ghost!
Anyway, so I'm kinda sad that I didn't bring my camera because I wish you guys could see how awesome the DR is!! And crazy!! The first thing me and my companion did was go on a bus type thing, I don't remember what it's called haha but it was insane! It was like this minivan type car that plays the game, lets see how many people we can cram into one car!! 20. Haha I counted!! And even better, there was no door!! People would just jump in and out! And I was on the end of course and I thought I was going to die at some moments! How these people drive and don't run into each other I do not know haha but it was seriously so fun!!
So guess who came and spoke to us for our devotional this week?? Elder Zivic!! The one who spoke in conference!! And guess what? Well first of all, we had no idea who was speaking and we had to have a musical number so I played an arrangement of I Know That My Redeemer Lives on the piano (the one that Rachael sang at my farewell) and some of the hermanas sang in Spanish!! And then Elder Zivic walked in and I got THAT much more nervous!!!! I played a musical number for Elder Zivic!!! Music is such an amazing thing that Heavenly Father has blessed us with!! And I am SO grateful to my lovely parents who have brought that blessing into my life!! Also, another fun music thing that has happened this week was, one of the teachers has a violin and had made an arrangement of Nearer My God To Thee and was dying for someone to play it, so I did!! Guys, I played the violin!! Hahaha it was amazing. I miss my viola so much! As I was playing the arrangement, other teachers started coming into the room and just sat there as I played. They just sat there and listened!! President heard it and asked if I would play it for family prayer. I played the violin for family prayer last night!!
Ok, I am literally getting kicked off!!! Thanks everyone for your support!! Love you all!!!
Hermana Holt

Hermana Frost and I

On our way to proselyte

One month down, 17 to go

Hermana Carey, my oldest friend