Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Loaves and Fishes!

Funny story time!
Sorry, I mean ALOHA and HOLA and HOWDY!
Ok, now funny story time. So Hna. Santos moved her trailer this week, which means all of the food in her fridge needed to go somewhere. She decided to live Elder Nelson's statement of "ask the missionaries! They can help you!" and brought all of it to our apartment. This is what our fridge normally looks like:

... And this is what it looked like after she gave us all her food:

We had to tape our freezer closed because there was a ton of food there too. On top of that she said to eat all we could, so we've been eating a lot of tortillas and beans and other assorted Mexican food. Definitely livin the good life :).
I don't have tons of time, so I'll just tell you a couple of miracles that happened this week (besides all of the food that we got to eat).
#1: We were trying to contact a potential investigator at this strange circle of trailers off the freeway (the same place where we ate chicken with the random Mexican men) who once again wasn't there. However, his neighbors looked Hispanic so we went over to talk to them. We asked the kids running around if we could talk to some adult figure, and they brought out their grandpa, José. We didn't even get through asking if we could share a message when he started pulling out chairs so we could platicar (talk) on the porch (becuase it was randomly like 80º outside... no complaints here!). We shared the Book of Mormon with him and talked about eternal families, and he talked about how he really wanted to change but hadn't found a church that he really fit with yet. We have high hopes for him!

#2: So we only have 800 miles a month on the car, which adds up to about 25 miles a day. Well Hna Crockett and I have definitely been using more than that all month so we've been getting kind of worried because a lot of the solid people are outside of Norman and we just don't have the miles for it. We track our miles everyday, and yesterday I calculated to see how many more we had per day. We still had 24! We have NO idea where those came, but every time we check there's more than we expected and just enough for us to do the work that we need to do. I believe that Heavenly Father is looking out for us because He understands our needs and circumstances and wants to make it possible for us to do our work! So just like the loaves and fishes of Bible times, He is multiplying our miles!
#3: The OU (Oklahoma University) Singles ward sisters had a baptism last night. His name is Tucker and they only met him 3 weeks ago! Apparently he showed up to church on Sunday and by Wednesday was already planning his baptism! Talk about prepared!

This week I've been studying diligence, and one scripture that I found that I loved is in Moroni 9:6. There are such amazing promised blessings in this scripture! The Lord wants laborers who are willing to work HARD, so let's do it!
Sorry this one is kind of short, but just know that I love all of you and pray for you often. Have a wonderful week and always remember who you are and what you stand for!
Hermana Holloway
PS: "God does not begin by asking about our ability, but only about our availability. And if we prove our dependability, He will increase your capability."

Monday, November 11, 2013

I (almost) survived my first transfer!!!

ALOOOOOOOOOOHA!! and HOOOOOOOLAA!! people on the receiving end of my missionary thoughts and experiences!!

Let's start out with some pictures:

So I have a story for this one. Once upon a time Hermana Holloway decided to make hardboiled eggs. Well because the stove is really dumb and is either not hot at all or a blazing inferno the eggs only got halfway hardboiled. Sort of like eggy soup. Blech. Hermana Crockett didn't want to waste some perfectly good eggs so she decided to make "bried" eggs by frying the halfway boiled eggs until they cooked. This was the result. Basically it was just weird. But funny :)

We found these friends in the middle of nowhere trying to find a potential investigator between Lexington and Noble. They weren't home, but we got a glimpse of their Thanksgiving dinner! They also randomly had a peacock which I don't really understand but it's Oklahoma. 

But anyways, this week was AMAZING!!! Definitely full of hard work, fun, and miracles. I've decided that being a missionary is a lot like being a detective. Or a stalker. But I like to think of a detective because it sounds nicer. For example, on Friday we got the records of a bunch of former investigators from like 7 years ago that all live in Purcell so on Saturday we decided to go find them. We discovered that a lot had moved or their houses had turned into parking lots or are now under the protection of the Fidelius Charm (for more information on this please refer to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). We found one guy, who got super weirded out when we called him by name. It was kind of funny, but we keep track of all of Heavenly Father's sheep! Basically Hna. Crockett and I had a lovely time driving around the tiny (and a little sketchy) town of Purcell. Southern life is definitely different from what I'm used to but I love it.

We also learned a valuable lesson about trailer parks. On Tuesday and Wednesday we decided that we were tired of trailer parks and wanted to try to find some Hispanics outside of them. BIG mistake. We knocked doors for hours encountering only non-Hispanics and rejection. Dejected, we returned back to the trailer parks and in a matter of an hour and a half we had 3 potentials and 3 new investigators! Moral of the story, trailer parks is where it's at. I never want to work outside of them again.

On a sad note, some of our favorite members are moving. They'll keep going to the branch, but it'll be a lot harder to keep up weekly dinners because they'll be so far away.

I think the biggest lesson that we've learned this week is patience. We want everything to happen according to our timeline but that's not how it works. Heavenly Father has a plan for our lives, our families, and the areas that we're serving in. As it says in D&C 123:17 "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren (or sisteren), let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for His arm to be revealed." I don't even think that I need to add to that!

Another spiritual tidbit: remember in the Joseph Smith movie (Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration) when they're building the Nauvoo Temple and Joseph Smith says "we're not really building a temple, the Lord is building us."? That line always went in one ear and out the other for me but now I realize what it means. The saints in Nauvoo spent years and years building the temple there only to abandon it a few weeks after it was completed. Was the point, therefore, really to build a temple? I don't think so. Rather, the Lord was teaching and building and refining His people so they would become the best versions of themselves. It's the same with missions. We're here for other people, no doubt. But the Lord is also using this as an opportunity to build and refine me. So when we face the rejection and the flaky people and the appointments that always fall through, we just have to remember that the Lord is building us. I would invite you all to take this statement and apply it to your lives. How is the Lord building you into the best version of yourself? How does that keep your trials and difficulties in perspective? Everything that we go through has a purpose and all of our trials are just and opportunity to change.

That's probably enough wisdom for one week. I don't want y'all to think that I'm no longer the goofy, awkward, strange person that I am. That hasn't gone away, trust me. I'm still very much looking forward to wearing pants and running around in a few hours. Yay P-Day!!! Yay pants!!!

I hope y'all have a lovely week as I know I will :). Thanks for the love, the letters, and the prayers. They are felt and SO appreciated. 

¡Les quiero mucho!

~Herman A. Holloway

PS: Oklahoma fall is pretty much the most amazing thing ever. It's been in the 60s and 70s all week! The fall leaves are pretty beautiful too.

Is the place of records far??

Aloha, Hola, and Howdy from Oklahoma!!!! This week has been wonderful as usual and la obra misional keeps rolling forward! This week was definitely a week full of miracles.

Milagro #1: The Santos family were the only people in attendance at our English class on Tuesday, and they brought an investigator with them. Hna C and I were all prepared to teach English to them, but it turns out that he just wanted to be taught the gospel! He sought out the Santos's to learn more about the church so we taught him La Restauración and he said that he believed everything that we said and he wants to study the Book of Mormon!! It's so awesome to find those golden investigators. That was definitely a blessing.

Milagro #2: We visited a less active woman and read Elder Uchtdorf's talk from last conference and she said that she felt like it was written directly for her and that she'd come to church! Granted, she didn't actually come to church, but it's a step in the right direction considering at the last visit she said that there was no way she'd go to church.

Milagro #3: Halloween!! We had to be in by 5, so we (myself and my companion) had a crazy missionary party, which involved eating tacos and popcorn, marking our Spanish scriptures, and watching The Testaments 2.5 times (PS I'm convinced that that movie is the reason why returned missionaries flirt so awkwardly. Just watch it and you'll understand. Also that's the inspiration for the title. Kind of a running joke with me and my compa now). If you ever wonder what missionaries do on their nights off, that's it. I'm pretty sure some Elders in our district had a corn dog eating contest. Classy.

Milagro #4: WE HAD SUCH AN AMAZING LESSON WITH EDNA!!! We taught her the Plan de Salvación, which was great because she's super big on family so she loved the part about how families are eternal. Also, she already loves the Book of Mormon as much as the Bible! She said that people need to give it a chance and not just reject because she sees how the two go hand and hand. It was so awesome! I wish we had more investigators like her. Every time we visit her I just get so happy. 

Milagro #5: WE GOT REJECTED!!!! WOO HOO!!!! You're probably wondering why this is a miracle, but most Hispanics are too nice to tell us that they're not interested in the evangelio so we end up coming back and trying to talk to them again while they keep avoiding us. But this one guy told us outright to not knock on his door again! It was so great!! Yay for honesty!

Milagro #6: So on Saturday we were planning on going to Purcell to visit people there but the Spanish Elders called us about 30 minutes before we wanted to leave to tell us that they needed the car to pick up and Elder who had had to fly to California for some medical tests. Great. It was actually a blessing in disguise because we got the Santos's to drive us all the way down there, and they were able to connect so well with the people in ways that we couldn't have because we're white and missionaries aren't really people. For example, the woman who lives in the trailer park without speed bumps is really interested, but her husband is convinced that missionaries are just going around looking for wives to steal. Like seriously. Come on dude, get with the times. BUT when he was talking to Hno. Santos his attitude changed from "I'm good with my church I don't even want to talk to you" to "maybe I'll come to your church someday". So awesome!

Milagro #7: Fall in Oklahoma is beautiful. Some days it still gets up to 80 degrees and the leaves are just barely changing colors. So even though it's chillier than Hawaii, I will survive hey hey!!!

I can't believe that I've already been here for a month. We're almost done with the transfer! Time has just flown by, but I love it. The people here are great, the other missionaries are awesome, and I LOVE studying and feeling the Spirit all the time! There are so many blessings that come with living this life. A lot of sacrifices too, but that's where the blessings come from and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks to everyone who sent me mail. It always makes me feel loved and special :). And it helps so much to know that I have support from everyone back home. Being a missionary would seriously be so much harder without that. Thank you for the prayers too!

Also, everyone should read Alma 7. It's so amazing to see what Christ and His Atonement has done for all of us. I'm so grateful for the influence of the Atonement in my life and the knowledge that if I repent and live the Gospel that I can be forgiven of all of my sins and return to my Heavenly Father again. That's the essence and beauty of the message that we have for people. We want them to come unto Christ and repent and we do it because we love them, not because of any personal satisfaction or gain. I love this Gospel so much!! The church is true!!!

Love you all!

Hermana Holloway

Ashley Santos and I on Halloween. I'd figure out how to make it not sideways but soy floja.

My zone. Most of these missionaries are just in Norman. We're definitely blessed to have so many! And yes, Sister Sotelo is really that short.