Monday, October 28, 2013

We found a trailer park without speed bumps!

Aloha y hola seres humanos! Greetings from Spanishland!!

This week was Zone Conference which was AMAZING (and long, but I think that's mostly because my attention span is short). President Walkenhorst, the APs, and the Zone Leaders all gave trainings about various topics. One of the things that really stuck out to me was about obedience. President W compared each "rule" or principle to a switch on a switchboard. If you demonstrate to the Lord that you're responsible enough to operate that switch then you'll get more, which means you get more rules, which are really just opportunities for blessings. The Lord blesses us with commandments so He can bless us, and if we obey the commandments we'll receive more. Some people have proved their obedience to the point that they can operate as many switches as you'd find in the cockpit of an aircraft, whereas some can only control an analog telephone. It really made me think, because every missionary has to be keeping the commandments to be worthy to go on a mission, but once we're here we don't get to relax the rules but rather we're given the white handbook which has TONS of rules but thereby tons of opportunities for blessings. Interesting, no? It definitely made me want to be more obedient.

Then on Thursday we had the demon wasp incident! If I had my camera chord I'd send pictures, but alas. So Sister C. and I were weekly planning like good missionaries and we decided to open the window because it was BEAUTIFUL out, like 70s and sunny and it was kind of hot and stuffy in the apartment. The only problem is that our windows don't have screens, but we remedied that by putting the fan in the window. Good. Actually not good because a little bit later this DEMON WASP (it was actually just a normal sized wasp) sent from SATAN came in the window and tried to eat my companion and then take her back to its lair to feed its evil demon wasp babies!!!! (actually it just flew in and started chilling on the light on our ceiling) So Sister C started making a flyswatter from her slipper and the twisty stick thing from the blinds while I kept an eye on the wasp to make sure it didn't disappear. Well I took my eyes off of it for about .01 seconds (maybe like 30...) and it disappeared!!! We looked everywhere but couldn't find it. We decided that it had crawled into the ceiling above the light fixture and was going to make babies which we for sure didn't want so we started to carefully take off the light to inspect. Well basically the light turned into a chandelier. No bueno. Then we had to go to the office and get Syndy (the office lady) to help us fix it. The maintenance guy came by shortly and turned our chandelier back into a normal light fixture, so now everything's good again. Hallelujah!! Basically from that experience we learned that you shouldn't touch light fixtures and we need a flyswatter. A little bit later we brought Syndy some pineapple because she was so helpful and basically awesome in general and then the next day she got us a flyswatter. So maybe the wasp was sent by Heavenly Father so we could meet Syndy. Whatever the case may be, it was a pretty funny experience and definitely delayed weekly planning by like 2 hours. 

And then on Friday was exchanges!!!! Sis C and I got to be companions with the 2 STLs (Sister Training Leaders... they're basically in charge of the sisters. It's a fairly new calling) in the zone so I got to lead out Spanishland with Sister Pfister who is an AMAZING missionary but doesn't speak Spanish. Our first appointment was with people who speak English though so that was good and I was able to see her in action. She's fabulous. I want to be like her when I grow up. Our next appointment was at a trailer park and we had the ward mission leader and his fiancee come but the flaky people flaked out. So we decided to go tracting with members! We actually had an AWESOME finding miracle too. We were walking around seeing potentials when Sis P points out this man working on something in his yard. She tells me to go talk to him (because she doesn't speak Spanish) which I wouldn't have ordinarily done because he looked pretty busy. I go over and "heavenly gift" him, which is our usual finding approach. Basically because everyone here is religious you just ask to pray with them, identify the Spirit, and get a return appointment. It usually works pretty well. So we heavenly gifted him and asked if there was anything in particular that he needed. He told us that his dad had actually just died in Mexico. WHOA. So we ask if we can talk to him (Daisy said "compartir palabras de aliento" but I'm not exactly sure how that translates) and he agreed! So we talked about the plan of salvation and gave him a Book of Mormon! The Spirit was so strong too! I hope that he'll be able to progress, but I've observed that there are 2 types of Hispanics: those that are staunchly Catholic and those that believe that religion doesn't matter as long as you believe in God. Neither are very receptive to the Church, and he's the second. So please pray for Rolando!

Then the next day we went to Purcell, which is this tiny "blink or you'll miss it" town South of Norman. It was there that we found the trailer park without speed bumps (which was really exciting because that's the worst part about trailer parks) and we also had an interesting encounter with some other Mexican men. So we were visiting this potential investigator who lives outside of Purcell just off the freeway behind this abandoned gas station with about 5 other trailers. Sketchy, right? Well he wasn't home, but as we were leaving we saw these guys cooking chicken and chilling in their little garage off their trailer. We decide to go talk to them, and they feed us chicken with tortillas and this hot sauce that I'm pretty sure burned a hole through my tongue. You would've loved it Mom. We talked about faith and the gospel and gave them a Book of Mormon. It was super fun! I love meeting random strangers. It's the spice of life. We'll probably go back there and talk to them some more. Hopefully they'll read the Book of Mormon and want to be baptized! Hey, miracles happen right?

Well I think this is sufficiently long, but just know that I love you all and I'm doing SO GREAT and loving being a missionary here in Oklahoma! I'm so blessed and have the best life ever!!!!


Hermana Halloween (because Holloway is too difficult for most Hispanics)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Before we begin, I would like to take a moment of silence and appreciate this Oklahoma sunset, as seen from my favorite trailer park:

Everyone ready?


How's everyone doing? I'm doing just great. Actually I'm doing AMAZING! Wanna know why? Because I had an AMAZING week! I mean, they're all amazing but I'm pretty sure they're just getting more amazing.

So first of all I'd just like to thank everyone who sent me mail this week. You have no idea how much getting mail can make a missionary's day. My compa and I spend all day saying to each other "we might get mail today!" and when there's mail in the mail box the day just gets 1000000% better! So basically just keep it coming. I'm going to try my hardest to answer all the letters I got but if I don't respond for a while it's not because I don't love you. And if I never respond then it means I don't love you :). But I love you all so that won't happen. Also, I did get one package from my amazing mother from Amazon that had food!! YES! Just a reminder, though, that if you send it via Amazon then the office can't forward it so I have to wait until someone from my zone is kind enough to pick it up for me unless I happen to go to OKC. That's not usually a problem unless it's something that I need urgently.

Alright now on to the good stuff. WE GOT 4 NEW INVESTIGATORS THIS WEEK!!! The first two I'm the most excited about. So my compa and I were knocking doors in this trailer park and we were kind of sick of this trailer park because a lot of the potentials from there have been pretty flaky. So after going around and finding out that nobody was home for a while we decided to try one last door before we were gonna give up and go somewhere else. We offered to pray with Edna (the woman who opened the door) and she let us right in and offered to feed us after knowing for all of 5 seconds. Good sign. Then after the prayer we told her that we had an important message and could we please come back and share it with her? She wasn't having that. She wanted us to teach her RIGHT THEN. So we taught her the restoration with her daughter and they were crying and the Spirit was so strong and she accepted baptism!!! It was so amazing!! We were going to teach her again on Friday but her car broke or something (it's really hard to understand people speaking Spanish on the phone) so our return appointment is on Wednesday. I really hope that nothing happens that would drive her away from the church because she and her daughter both seem super solid! Prayers on her behalf would be appreciated.

Our next new investigator is another trailer park find named Mario. He's Catholic so I'm not sure if he'll be as accepting of the Evangelio (Gospel) but he really loves his family so Sis. C and I want to go back and talk to him about how the gospel can bless his family.

The final investigator this week is also named Mario and he's a brother to Omar and Berto. We went back to the Santos trailer to teach Omar and Berto but it ended up being Omar and Mario. It was a good lesson though. We read part of 3 Nephi 11 and Sister Santos and Hugo (the Santos's son who's in his 20s) both bore powerful testimonies about the Book of Mormon. Member present lessons are the best!! Go out with the missionaries to teach! They need your testimonies! Omar and Hugh are also both hilarious. Hugo especially is just a big goofball. His sense of humor is kind of like Sam's actually. At one point he went into the kitchen and came out with an apron to kill a fly because he forgot that he already had the flyswatter out then later put on the apron, danced a little hula, and told us all that he's going to bake a cake for us. He's basically an older Mexican version of Sam. The best is that he's only 22 but is already in the branch presidency. This Sunday he was conducting and asked me to pray from the pulpit but he either didn't remember my last name or can't pronounce it because he definitely said "La Hermana Halloween dará la oración". Classic. Oh and he asked both me and my compa to speak this next Sunday. Great. We get to go to their house tonight for Noche de Hogar (FHE) so that should be fun! The Santos family is pretty much the best.

Love you all! Keep living, laughing, loving, praying, sharing, and testifying!! Member missionary work is where it's at!! Give out those referrals!!

Con amor,

Hermana Holloway

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dare to be consecrated!

Hola familia y amigos y alguien mas que lea mis correos electrónicos!

All of the messages that you sent me made me so happy!! I'm glad that you've had the opportunity to go to Disneyland so many times and your anniversary was fun. And I LOVED your greenie package. So adorable and tasty and useful!! It's a miracle that it got here on the day that I thought it was just lost forever.

Also, thanks to everyone who sends me mail. I sent off a letter to Kristi and Michael already, but I'll be sure to get back to Jenni and Grandma Holloway today. Everyone else, send me mail!

This week was the bomb diggity (yes I did really just type that)!! My compa and I are still getting used to the area but I think that we've been able to learn super fast. This definitely could be harder than it has been, but with the help of Heavenly Father we've been able to see many many miracles! We also got to dust of the bikes for the first time this week because we're only allowed 25 miles a day and we need to save some for trips to outlying towns that are also part of our area. It's awesome though because biking is super fun! Having to bike in a skirt is a challenge sometimes, but we deal with it.

The major thing we've been focusing on is finding solid investigators. A lot of time what will happen is we'll find someone, they'll say they're too busy for a lesson then, so we'll set up a return appointment. The problem is that they're too polite to say they're not interested so we end up knocking on their door again and they're not home. This was happening so much that we decided to take this "problem" (or future strength as we call them) to district meeting. We do this every week to get input from the other missionaries that's super helpful and often is the solution to the problem. One of the elders suggested that we count the small victories and not just focus on the outward results. By doing that I was able to see SO MANY MIRACLES! For example, on Saturday we found this guy who was really depressed at that moment and needed someone to talk to. We were just biking by and the Spirit said "STOP!". So we did and were able to help him in his time of need. Then on Sunday we went over to the Santos's house to follow up on this young man that's staying in their house. Last week we had given him a Book of Mormon and Sister Santos reported to us that he was reading it. Well we went to talk to him and had an AWESOME lesson with him and his brother who are both so prepared! It was amazing! It was just a huge testimony builder to me that when Heavenly Father sees that we're working hard He magnifies our efforts and guides us to the people who really need us. And now we have 2 new and solid investigators!

Aside from that we're starting English classes this week to help find people and give service to the community. That should be fun. More updates on that to follow.

My district here is also great. Actually after District Mtg. on Friday we were all eating pizza together when I mentioned to my District Leader who is super nice and always asks how he can help that Sister Crockett and I would appreciate some ice cream. This was said COMPLETELY in jest, but he and his comp showed up that night with 2 cartons of ice cream! How awesome is that? We repaid him by giving him 2 referrals from our apartment complex. Now he thinks that whenever he gives us ice cream he gets referrals... But my comp and I are actually really good at finding referrals for other missionaries. I think we're up to 6 now.

Lately I've been reading Jesus the Christ, which is such an amazing book. one of the things that struck me was when Talmage was explaining the parable of the seed growing secretly (it's in Mark 4:26-29). It talks about how a sower planted a seed that grew gradually until the sower came back and found that it had matured into the full ear of corn. I think that this is super applicable to missionary life, because every person that we find is at a different stage in their spiritual development. For most all we can do is plant seeds. When we find those who are spiritually ready to be "harvested" then we have the most outward success, but planting seeds still fulfills the missionary purpose of bringing others to Christ. This parable definitely helped me this week.

Also, one of my favorite quotes from Conference was from Elder Uchtdorf, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith!" Wow! So true! The Adversary wants us to have doubt and think that we can only know if we have concrete evidence, whereas the Lord invites us to trust Him and walk by faith, not sight.

And FINALLY, I should probably explain the title of this particular email. This comes from the son of the sister that lead the choir that I sang in in the conference center. Consecration is when we give all of EVERYTHING to the Lord and He gives us back what we need. My goal as a missionary is to be consecrated, and while this is a gradual and difficult process I still want to dare to be consecrated!

Well I hope this next week is super duper! Sorry this email is so long but I just had so much to talk about. 

Love you all!

~Hermana Holloway

PS: Dare to be consecrated!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm in Oklahoma!!

HOLA Y ALOHA!!!!!!!!

Guess what? I'm in Oklahoma! And I survived my first half week here! Life is good!! 

First of all I'd like to give a shoutout to my parents who have been married for 20 years on Wednesday! Wow. They don't look that old do they?

Alrighty, here's a rundown of what I've been doing lately:

I had the lovely opportunity of going to the travel office at 2:30 am to fly to OKC. The airports that we were in provided my first opportunity in public as a missionary. Basically you get a lot of weird looks. Especially when there are 26 of you traveling together! All of the missionaries coming from Provo were English speaking except for me, but we picked up 2 Spanish elders from the Mexico MTC in Dallas during our layover. The whole rest of that day I was super tired, but my mission president is awesome and it was fun staying in the mission home. They have a legit tornado shelter. Like concrete walls and metal hatches and everything. It was intense! Oklahoma is basically a flatter Illinois. I wouldn't think that there was anything flatter than IL, but I haven't seen any hills whatsoever. It was pretty warm until Thursday night when there was a sudden thunderstorm that turned the switch from summer to winter in a matter of hours. So now it's pretty chilly.

My comp/trainer/mom is Hermana Crockett! She's super great! She's really kind and patient and organized and I'm so grateful to have her. Your trainer on the mission is compared to your parent, and she's definitely almost as caring as Mamie. But not quite of course. We're splitting the Norman 3rd Spanish branch with the elders that were already here, so we're whitewashing and shotgunning the area. That basically means that we're opening and taking over an area. The elders here have been super helpful, especially considering we're taking half of their investigators and their car. What we're doing kind of feels like being dropped on a treadmill going like 20 miles an hour, but the elders have been great about trying to make it as easy a transition as possible. Our new apartment is also really nice. We're the first missionaries to live in it so everything is new. And we have 2 bathrooms which is AWESOME.

Basically we've been trying for the last couple of days to put together our area book and get to know the branch. The people in the branch are just AWESOME. Most of the work we do is in trailer parks, and I've decided that trailer park people are the best. They're super receptive to the gospel, they're religious already so even though they might not be interested in the church they respect us as missionaries, they're humble, and they work very hard for very little and share what little they have. Case in point is Hermana Santos. She's a member who cooks for the missionaries every Wednesday and never lets you leave until you can't eat anymore then she sends you home with more food! She's also hilarious, and is convinced that feeding gringos spicy food will improve their Spanish. It's a good thing my Spanish is already pretty good. She also gives nicknames to all of the missionaries. I'm Hermana Halloween and Sister Crockett is Hermana Cracker. I think it's very appropriate that her name is Santos, because she definitely is a saint!

Michelle and Becki will definitely enjoy this story. I had my first "bless your heart!" since being in the South last week. Hna Crockett and I weren't sure which mailbox was ours so we ended up getting our key stuck in somebody else's mailbox, which necessitated the maintenance man replacing that lock and us getting a new key from the very nice lady in the front office that actually "blessed our hearts" to our face. It was a great moment. (PS our mailbox was empty...)

Oh, and I had the first door slammed in my face! Last night we went around and said hi to our neighbors and one man just opened the door a crack and said "not interested!" before immediately closing it again. The Hispanics are usually nicer than that. :)

General conference!!!! So good!!! What really stood out to me the most was the strong themes that there were. They were a lot more prevalent than other conferences. I especially noticed that many were warning that a testimony of the truth isn't enough. You truly have to become converted to the gospel in order to withstand the storm that is coming! Conference definitely made me recommit to becoming a converted and a consecrated missionary. If you don't strive to be better EVERY DAY, you start to go backwards.

I've also been doing a cool study in my scriptures that I recommend. I got a brand-new paperback copy of the Book of Mormon, and I'm reading it and marking it with a specific theme in mind. This time I'm focusing on the Holy Ghost. I got the idea from an MTC devotional by Elder Bednar who said to do this continually until you have a whole shelf of Books of Mormon that is really a progression of your spiritual learning. I think it's awesome so far and I've already learned a lot of cool things. For example, have you ever seen how Lehi and Joseph Smith are really similar? Think about it. Makes sense.

Well until next week! I love you all! You are all wonderful! I wish I had more time but that's all I got.


Hermana Holloway

Elder Lier has a fake tooth that he can pop out. 
It was pretty entertaining the first time that happened.

This is what P-Day looks like at the MTC. Basically, laundry. 
Intense biking with my companion.

Elder Grimm on his first day at the MTC still wearing his dot.

Hey, Look it is the Daines!!

We're adorable!

Hermana Holloway and Mission President, Brother Walkenhorst and his wife.
She said, "Yes, he really is that tall."