Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 14: 3 months-Just keep walking

So last week I hit my 3 MONTH mark!! Wow, I can't believe it! Sometimes it feels like I've been here for like 5 or 6 haha but I'm glad that I'm still in my early months, and I actually really enjoy training!! My companion is a rockstar!! Oh and guess what? We got a call yesterday from our new Mission President!! Ahh he is so great! When I talked to him the first thing he said was, Sister Holt, we have something in common! We are both from the great state of Arizona!! Haha he is SO cool!! We have a zone conference tomorrow and are going to meet them and I'm so excited!

So, this week was another slow week with the investigators. Almost all of our appointments canceled this week which was super difficult, but it gave us the opportunity to find and run into some less actives!! Heavenly Father is always in charge! There are soo many less actives in this ward which is super sad. And as missionaries we are here to strengthen the ward as well! So we chose one of the less actives that comes every once in a while and started walking to where we thought she lived. 2 and 1/2 hours later.. walking... we found her! Woo!! Haha I don't think I've ever been so tired in my whole life, my feet were killing me! And it happened to be the hottest day of the week!! But that's beside the point! Anyway, when we found her she was smoking... NOOO!!! As we were talking to her we found out she has really really fallen away, but she told us that she sincerely has a desire to come back. She doesn't have a car so she used to get a ride to church from the Mission Leader but she said she didn't want to bug him for a ride every sunday. We talked to her about the power of the Atonement and afterwards she said she would call the Mission Leader for a ride to church! In all honestly, we weren't sure if she would, but we were praying for her that she would. And what do you know, there she was sitting at church with us yesterday!! It was great! We also met another less active who lives with just her 8 year old daughter (who literally looks just like Megan!). She was a little hesitant at first with us showing up at her door, but then my companion started asking her about her baptism, which was about 10 years ago. Slowly, I could see the Spirit working in her as she talked about how special it was for her! We asked her about church and it's hard for her because she works everyday. But we have another appointment with her this week :) so hopefully we can help her! As we were leaving though she simply said, thank you. Awe! I know it wasn't us though, it was definitely the Spirit!

We do have 3 progressing investigators though!! Woo!! One of them is the husband of one of the members in our ward and he is awesome!! Our second lesson with him this past week we asked him how his reading went (we asked him the read the introduction to the BofM in the first lesson) and he was like, well I really liked this and this and this part and how there are all these testimonies from these men and I know that this book is true...... Um, come again? Haha oh my goodness!! He literally read allll of the introduction, the testimonies of the 11 witnesses and the testimony of Joseph Smith, and he said that he knew it was true!! Hna Sosa and I literally didn't know what to say and I'm pretty sure we smiled the entire lesson! When we extended the bautismal date though he said he still wanted to learn a lot more before he committed... GAH! So we are working on that :) But it is exciting! Our other 2 are the daughter and mom! They had some family things last week so we didn't get to visit them a lot, but we keep in contact with her throughout the week! The daughter has been reading and she says she knows it's true. Ah!! We have FHE with them tonight so we'll see how it goes!!

Anyway, Hermana Sosa and I are really excited for this week and are ready to work super hard!! We are just hoping that our investigators are actually at their houses.. hahaha oh my gosh!! This week was so weird because we literally had people RUN away from us so that we wouldn't talk to them!! What's up with that?!?! Haha I don't even know. Well, have a good week everyone!!

Love, Hermana Holt

3 month mark

tired after walking

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Week 13: Goodbye Zwicks, Hello Sister Dew

Hey everyone!! Sorry I'm writing so late in the week, these past few days and this past week have been absolutely crazy!!! Last week didn't really end the way we would have like it to, but the work is in the Lord's hands so we need to always trust in that!! Some circumstances came up and we aren't going to be teaching our two families anymore. I am absolutely so sad, but right now is just not the time, so I'm praying that in the future that it will be better! We are still keeping in contact with them though which I'm happy about! So right now, we don't have a lot of investigators or investigators that are progressing, but we are praying that this next week all will go well with the people we have contacted! Also, my dear companion got lice this past week so it took a couple of days to take care of that!! Don't worry, I am completely good - we have checked multiple times!!

So Monday we had a Sisters Training Meeting for all the Sister Missionaries in the mission and oh my goodness, it was amazing!!!! You will never guess who came and spoke to us!! So I was asked to be in a musical number with 5 other sisters and as we were practicing, the missionary that was playing the piano said, "Ok, so before Sheri Dew talks..." Uh, what did you say? Sheri Dew, like THE Sheri Dew? YUP!! Sheri Dew came and spoke to all of us!!! IT WAS AMAZING!!!! And it was a little nerve racking too cause we had to sing for her!! But it went SO well! Wow, that women is amazing. The theme basically for her talk was "Live your life with the help of Heaven." How cool is that? And she talked about the grace of God and how we can use it and recognize it in our lives. The Zwicks spoke too and it was so bittersweet because it was the last time they would talk to us, so they both bore their testimonies. I don't think I have ever felt the Spirit so strong in my whole life. I will forever remember the feelings I had in that meeting, I wish you all could have been there to feel it. This church is true! I can't get over it!!! Afterwards we all went to the Mission Home for lunch!! And what do you know, Sheri Dew came too!! After we ate, she was sitting on the couch and who would want to miss an opportunity like that?? So me, Hna Van Kammen and Partridge all went up and talked to her! She kept asking us questions about the mission and how we felt and what we were learning and all that stuff and after she's like, lets just have a group hug!! AH!! I was in a group hug with Sheri Dew!!!! Hahaha my life is made. But really, the whole experience was incredible. And I am going to miss the Zwicks SO much. They are probably some of the most amazing people I have ever met and have done miracles for this mission. I'm so sad they're leaving but our new president is coming tomorrow!! Woo!! We didn''t get home from the meeting til about 7:30 at night because it's about a 3 hour drive!

So yesterday we were supposed to just get our groceries and email, but when we went to the library to write it was closed!! I was so sad haha, but I know Heavenly Father has his reasons, here's why :) So since the library was closed we went over to one of our newest investigators we had just taught a couple days before, but when we got there she said that she was just about to leave (we are going back saturday though, don't worry!) so we had a decision to make. We could contact where we were, or we could go visit a lady we had contacted and talked to the week earlier, about a 10, 15 minute walk. We decided to go visit the lady we had talked to, and we are SO glad we did! When we first talked to her last week, her daughter (16) hadn't been living with her for over a year because of some reasons and that week she was going to see if her daughter would be able to move back in with her. When we went to go visit her yesterday, her daughter was there!!! So that was a miracle in itself!! And they were going to leave in about an hour, which means we had just enough time to teach the Restoration!! :) So we did, and oh my goodness. The lesson went so well!! They are so receptive, especially the daughter!! She was so excited to meet us and wants to know more about the scriptures and the gospel and how she can change, because she said that she wants to come closer to God!! Haha Hna Sosa and I just sat there, what is happening?! This is great! The ward is having a church "movie night" tomorrow night so we are taking her to it! GAH! Heavenly Father knows everything!!! Hna Sosa and I were talking afterwards and if we didn't go there at that time, we wouldn't have gotten a hold of them!

Oh guess what?! The Elders brought us a car!! Haha well, we can only use it for meetings, like meetings for the mission or district meetings in other areas! But hey, that's good enough for me!! Haha anyway, I'm out of time! A little update on the Spanish though, I have been able to understand a lot more this week which has been awesome!! My speaking still is no where near perfect haha but I'm doing better at forming sentences and I'm trying to legit force myself to talk to people haha but I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn it!!

Hermana Holt

Hermana Partridge and I at the mission home

Our feet after walking in the rain-Gross!

our new baby Roxy

driving from the meeting

taking the scenic route home

more from our drive

Sheri Dew the most amazing speaker ever

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Week 12: My First Baptisms!

Guess what......... I HAD MY FIRST 2 BAPTISMS THIS PAST WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Juan and Celines were baptized on Saturday and it was AWESOME!!!!!!!!! I honestly can't even describe how it feels, to see someone accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to make that covenant. AH!! The church is true!!!! I wish all of you could get to know them, they are SO great!! The week was kind of crazy helping them prepare and working with the ward to have a baptism, but the Lord was definitely in charge, and now they are both members of the church!! I just can't thank Heavenly Father enough for giving me and my companion the opportunity to teach them and to see how the Gospel changes lives. Later that night after the baptism, Celines called us to tell us how great she feels and that at the moment she was reading the Book of Mormon!! Ahhh my heart melted!!! She is seriously such a sweetheart. And it's so awesome too because her dad has a hard time seeing, so she reads to him from the Book of Mormon every day. These 2 are such gems! And their confirmation was so special too, they were both completely elated after they received the Holy Ghost, and both of them explained how they could feel it so powerfully. What an awesome weekend it was for sure here in San Sebastian!!! 
So this week we received a call from a lady who lives right next to one of our investigators and she said that she wanted us to come visit her!! Haha ok? We thought it was a lady that we have talked to several times who lives across the street from our investigator, but when we went to her house she said that she didn't call us! Haha umm alright? So she told us to walk down the street to another house where this lady lived, and ask her. So we did, and it turns out she's the one that called us! And we didn't even know her!! She is an older lady who lives by herself and someone had told her that the missionaries would come visit her so she called us!! Hahaha she is so awesome!! She is Catholic but she says that a lot of her extended family is Mormon..... :) YES! Haha so we are definitely going to work hard with her! And it was so funny because when we started sharing our little message she looked at me and said, I don't even know where but I really think I've seen you before! You just have that familiar face!! Hahaha so Hna Sosa told her that we were probably all best friends in the Premortal life hahaha great way to start a lesson right??
 So this last Pday one of the ladies in our ward took us hiking to some underground caves!! SO cool!! We had to hike about an hour or so to the first one which was a bit smaller and you actually had to slide down into a little hole to get inside!! Haha when I first looked at it I thought, no way. I'm not doing it!! But I'm so glad I did!! Haha and it seriously was like a Harry Potter moment, it looks so small from the outside and then you get in and it's HUGE!! The other one was absolutely massive and went super far back into the mountain!! I have a couple pictures so I'll try and send those.  
This week was a little rough for some of our other investigators though, it's hard when they don't keep commitments! The family with the teenage kids, the kids always happen to be gone when we have an appointment, and when they are there, they don't stay the whole lesson. It's a bit hard, but, we keep working with them! Always follow up, right?! But the Lord always blesses us with tender moments too! We taught our other family this week too, the family with 4 little kids, and the first miracle was, her boyfriend actually joined us for the lesson!!! Woo!! Baby steps!! So we took the opportunity and talked about the family and then all of the sudden, out of the blue, my companion starts talking about the law of chastity!!! Hahaha which is good but I had no idea!! So I let her do her thing (she is such an amazing and bold missionary) and they actually took it alright and they want to talk about what they want to do! So we'll see when we visit them this week! But it was so cute because we asked if we could do a kneeling prayer, so all 4 little kids and those parents knelt down with us in a circle and I was the one who got to say the prayer!! It was such an awesome moment!! Really, the mom has SUCH a desire to know and to change, we are just praying for her boyfriend to feel the same way.  
One of my funny moments this week, we were at Juan and Celines's house and we were just talking when all of the sudden I see this HUGE tarantula out of the corner of my eye!!!!! Luckily it was on the other side of the room but I about lost it!! Haha spiders are really my biggest fear!! Literally the whole time I kept eyeing it, scared that if I turned for a second it would jump off the wall and attack me hahaha but guess what happened!! So we had to say the prayer and I don't think I've ever been more scared during a prayer hahahaha but guess what happened when I opened my eyes?? It was GONE!!!! Yeah, I kinda freaked out a little hahaha but it's all good! 
Hna Sosa and I have been studying prayer this week and man, I am SO glad we did!! Wow, prayer is absolutely amazing!! We have the opportunity WHENEVER we want, to talk to the most powerful being, our Heavenly Father. How incredible!! But more than that, we studied how we need to pray. I wish I wrote down the quote but President Hinckly said in Preach My Gospel that a lot of people treat prayer as if they are calling a store and ordering groceries, that we are not putting actual effort in. Wow, bold right? But it really made me think, how am I saying my prayers? Am I really being sincere? Am I really thanking Him enough? Or am I just asking and asking and asking and that's it? And something that I absolutely LOVE in Preach My Gospel is that it says that we need to pray with real intent, meaning that we are COMMITTED to act upon the answers and impressions we receive. WOW! Think about that. When we ask for something, are we just asking and expecting it to happen? Or are we actually doing something about it? Remember faith without works is dead, and that when we press forward and show Heavenly Father that we are ready to act, He is then able to guide us. How grateful I am for the experiences I've had this week!! And especially for the opportunity I've had to try and pray ever so sincerely. It's powerful, I testify of that!! 
Well, until next week! The Spanish is still coming slowly but surely haha. And it kind of stinks because now that we are at the end of a transfer (oh my goodness I've finished my first transfer!!!!) I'm no longer the newbie missionary! Hahaha I have no excuse!! Haha no just kidding, but really! Everyday I think I improve a little bit more, but I still have a long way to go!! Have a great week everyone!!!  
Hermana Holt

2 months down 

 our investigator's 100 year old dad

our backyard friend

Hermana Sosa's amazing food               baptism invite


baptism of Juan and Celines

 the sister's with Juan and Celines

CCM sisters
Holt, Gallardo, VanKammen, Madrigal, Partridge

 Elder Zwick's son spoke at our conference

one hour hike to the caves

looks tiny

bigger than I thought    

 I made it

I'm a missionary

Mayaguez Stake Center

scary bridge that moves when you walk on it

Crazy rain                                                 Let it rain 

my zone

beauty in the front

crazy fast driving and terror in the back

our mission leader's large turtles

holding it in my white skirt

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 11: Zone Conference

This week begins my six weeks!! Where has the time gone? This past week was full of lessons and meetings and I don't think I've had a week go by so fast!! Oh and guess what..... WE HAVE TWO BAPTISMS FOR THIS SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHH!!!! We are hoping everything goes well with the interviews and these next lessons, but really, I know they both have such a desire to be baptized! Haha they are the cutest!! Haha one of the days it was so funny because we weren't able to meet with them because of a zone conference and we told the daughter, but she didn't tell her dad! And apparently when we didn't show up he freaked out and thought we were sick or something! Hahaha but it's all good, they are so cute!
Also our lessons with S (the one with the 4 little kids) are going really well!! She is SO great and wants to know so bad if this church is true. She wasn't able to come to church yesterday which was a bummer, but we have been meeting with her multiple times throughout the week. A lot of our investigators don't have cars actually and it's hard to find rides for them too! But we are doing our best!!
So we had a zone conference and a stake devotional with President Zwick!! I don't think I can ever stop saying how incredible he is!!! Like really. He wants to help this mission so much and he gives us exactly what we need to help the work here. But really, we can't do all that we can do without the help of the members. Our stake devotional was with all the members in the stake who had callings and all the missionaries and it was all about how members and missionaries NEED to work together!! He said everything perfectly!! I'm super sad for him to leave in a couple weeks, but I am super excited for our new Mission President too!! Everything happens for a reason, I have such a strong testimony of that!
Well, I'm out of time, sorry I'm not able to talk about my other investigators!! Next week! The Spanish is coming still, I was able to listen to all the meetings and could understand most of it which was a huge accomplishment for me!! But still, speaking is something that has been a real struggle. But we push forward right?? I read Elder Bednars talk this morning for last conference (read it!) and he talked about how the struggles and burdens we have in this life are really blessings and are essential! They help us to learn and to grow and rely on the Savior and His Atonement! How grateful I am for the Atonement. Sometimes I don't think we realize how wonderful this act was and is, how much Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father love us. We, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can live with our Heavenly Father again! We can go through the trials in this life because we have the Savior of the world carrying our burdens and pushing through WITH us. Wow. I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. This week, think about the Savior and specifically what he has done for you, and I promise that you will be able to feel his love for you! Have a great week everyone :)

Hermana Holt

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week 10: Earthquake

I don't even know where to start with this email! I feel like we did so much this week, haha but I feel like I don't have a lot to say! Well, it's officially June which is absolutely crazy! Time keeps going faster and faster, but we are trying to work harder and harder! We had a lot of good lessons this week, and had a lot of lessons fall through as well, which means a lot more walking :) But hey, it's great! We are having some conflicts with some of the baptismal dates and we might have to drop one of the dates, but we are still pressing forward. As of right now we still have J and S being with baptismal dates for the 14th and we are hoping to extend 3 more this week for the 27th! We are teaching two families as well which is always exciting! They both live in really humble circumstances, but they are just great! One family is the mom with her 3 kids (12, 13, 14). The mom and the 14 year old daughter have been at all the lessons and are super receptive! The 13 year old son joined us for the Restoration lesson and I think he liked it! And the 12 year old daughter still has yet to come! We see her everywhere and always talk to her, she is such an angel! But every time we actually come to the house, she is gone! Haha but there is a big Super Saturday activity for all the youth of the stake that we invited them too and they want to go, so we'll see! But yeah, they are super receptive but still have yet to come to church. And that is SO important! So we are working with them! The other family, oh my goodness, these children are so precious! They are 2, 3, 4, and just recently 6! They live across the street from this other family and so we contacted them that way! When we went to go visit them just the mom and the 2 and 4 year old girls were home. So we got to know her and just shared a little bit of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and how it can bless her and her family. I could totally feel the spirit! She was so into what we were saying, it was amazing! We asked if she could say the prayer and as she did (it was such a beautiful prayer), she started to cry and I knew she felt the Spirit.. It was such a cool thing to see. And I couldn't understand when she said this part haha but my companion told me after that she was saying how she was really having a hard week and she just wants to do the best things that she can for her family, and that she knew God sent us to her! What?! She is such a sweetheart, and the best thing is, they came to church!!! She brought her 3 oldest kids with her and she really really liked it!! We definitely need to bring some things for the kids to do during sacrament, haha but I think the kids enjoyed it too! Especially primary! She told us after church that she definitely wants to come back again next week, so we have some visits set up for this coming week!!
So GET THIS! On Wednesday we were walking back from an appointment and our district leader called us freaking out and asking us if we were ok!! Uhhh.. yes Elder! We are just fine, what happened? Hahaha yeahh.. apparently there was an Earthquake!!! It was 5.7 I believe but the crazy thing is, we didn't feel anything!! Nothing! And every other person and the other missionaries were telling us that it was super short, but super strong! Scary! But we are ALL safe, everything is ok! Haha I'm not sure if there was news about it in the states, but everything is good! I just can't even believe Hermana Sosa and I were the only ones that didn't feel it!!
So I learned something this week, members are SO important in missionary work!!! SO important!! If you don't know the missionaries in your ward, please get to know them. Find out ways you can help them! You don't need to be their third companion, but I promise you it will bring so many blessings and it will help the missionaries!! I love the members here, but it's been a little hard to get some of the help we need. But the work keeps going!!
Gah I'm out of time!! I'm sorry!! Remember that this church is TRUE! We received all the Conference talks this week and I am in Heaven!! I have been studying them like crazy, they are amazing!! If you have time this week, read some of them! Study them! These are living prophets and apostles called of God! They definitely have something that we need to hear. I testify of that!! I love you all, have a great week :)

Love, Hermana Holt