Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Service Softens Hearts


I don't have tons of time this week, but I wanted to update y'all on some of the things that have been going on.
After Cody got baptized things slowed down a little bit but we're still plenty busy. We've been teaching this Baptist preacher that is super smart and knows the Bible inside, out, and backwards, but he is really seeking to know if this is the correct path for him. On Thursday he gave such a sincere prayer that I have no doubt in my mind that he will find that this is the true church even if it takes some time. Of all the miracles that I've seen so far, the greatest one is the softening and changing of someone's heart.
This week we also did more heart attacks, and one less active sister that we haven't been able to see in months called us right after and told us that she was putting a picture on Facebook AND that she's really wanted to meet with us, she just has been crazy busy but she's going to try to see us again. If you show people you really care, it softens their hearts.
We also had stake conference this weekend, and one thing that they really emphasized was following the Spirit. The Stake President said, "hastening the work does not mean rushing the Spirit". Following the Spirit really is key. If we always strive to keep our lives in line so that we can feel the Spirit then we cannot go astray. We will do the Lord's will. Elder Bednar puts it much better than I can in this talk: http://www.lds.org/new-era/2010/09/line-upon-line-precept-upon-precept-2nephi-2830?lang=eng Enjoy :).
I hope y'all have a wonderful week. I'll try to write a longer epistle next week. Love you all!
Con carino,
Hermana Holloway
PS: We like Little Caesar's. Sometimes we take it home on our bikes.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Multitude of Miracles!!

ALOOOOOOOOHAAAAAA!!!! Maybe I should explain this picture a bit... we have this fake mustache attached to one of the mirrors in our car, and if you get your camera tilted at just the right angle you can take a picture of yourself with a mustache. This was just one of my many failed attempts... but I will get it!! In my defense, we were driving at the time. The large glasses are courtesy of Hna. Lemke.
ANYWAYS Cody got baptized this week!!!!! Woo hoo!!! It was a really great service. A lot of ward members came, the Spirit was strong, and the tres leches cake that I made was a huge hit! This is us with Cody before he got baptized:

If you wanna learn more about how I feel about it, just read D&C 18:15. I think the greatest miracle from this week was being able to see the fruits of the Atonement and just how much Cody changed in order to be baptized. He is a completely different person from who he was just a few weeks ago. It's amazing.
Another miracle: on Tuesday we were on bikes and trying to see a recent convert that's been having a hard time getting to church. We knocked on her door and she wasn't there so we lingered on the porch for a little bit to make some phone calls, and she drove up! We had a really great visit and really just talked to her and shared a spiritual thought. No big deal. Well as we were about to leave and without us mentioning anything about church, she opened up and told us why she hasn't been going. It really is true that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care!
Yet another miracle: on Tuesday we'd OYMed (Open Your Mouth) to this Spanish guy on the street that lives in Clinton. We set up a time to go see him Sunday evening. Well later on on Saturday we got invited to go do dinner in Burn's Flat (about 30 minutes from Clinton) around the same time we were going to see this guy. We didn't want to drop the potential investigator in favor of dinner, so we decided to go visit him earlier. Good thing too because if we'd come when we'd originally planned on coming he would have been at work!!
AND THEN about 20 minutes after we leave his house, we check up on this other potential. Hna Lemke had talked to her daughter that speaks English, and today that daughter invited us into the house. We heard the mom saying in Spanish "tell them I don't speak English!" and then we started talking to her in Spanish! I think that she might have had a heart attack from the surprise!! It turns out that she was really interested in the fact that white girls come and teach the gospel to Spanish people, so we're going back to teach her family! Miracle!
One last miracle: Yesterday it was GORGEOUS, like 70 degrees and sunny. I didn't really want to spend P-Day inside, and the Zone Leaders had invited us to go to this state park (Red Rock State Park in Hinton) with them and some other Elders in the zone. We wanted to go, but with all we had to do we didn't think that we'd have time. Well lo and behold it was MLK day so we couldn't email which gave us time to go out and enjoy the beautiful weather. Good thing too, because it's back down to freezing today.

Our lurvely day:

So anyways, that was my week!! They just keep getting better and better and better and better. I didn't think that it was possible, but it is.
I love you all!! I hope you have as many miracles as I did this week and that you're all happy and doing well. God loves you and will always answer you prayers!!

Hermana Holloway

An oil rig on the way to Burn's Flat

Just chillin on a tree

Monday, January 13, 2014

Baptisms, Translating and Okie Talkers

ALOHAHOLAHOWDY!!! Well this week has felt mostly like HOWDY!! We haven't been seeing as many Spanish people, but working with this ward has kept us plenty busy!
I guess I'll go in chronological order. Last Monday we played Cranium for P-Day with the district, and the sistas won! Woot woot!

(I'm pretty sure this was during some ridiculous charades thing.)
Then later on in the week things slowed down a little bit so we decided to do a little service by heart attacking the doors of some sisters who could use the cheer. For example:


Then Thursday rolls around and we go to our weekly Bible study as usual. The family that had signed up to feed Elders in Clinton (2) were champs and ended up feeding the Zone Leaders who were there on exchanges (+2), as well as us because we came to Clinton early to see Spanish folk (+2), AND the Elders from El Reno who had to drive all the way out here to interview Cindy for baptism (+2) (the sister that the Clinton Elders had been teaching. The district leader couldn't do it because he taught her, the Zone Leaders also taught her, so they had to get a DL from another district). AND they fed Cody (+1). I think that you can do the math on that.

But that's not even the most exciting part! (though food is generally exciting) That night Cody said to us, "hey sisters, I have a date for you. Can I get baptized on January 18th?" WHAT? OF COURSE YOU CAN GET BAPTIZED ON JANUARY 18TH!!! So we're having a miracle baptism on January 18th! I'm not sure how much y'all remember about Cody, but he's that one guy who randomly came to church the last Sunday in December. Yep. He's getting baptized this week. Craziness!!!
That will also be the second baptism in a row for the Clinton ward, because Cindy (who I mentioned previously) was baptized on Saturday/there was a crazy missionary reunion on Saturday because she invited like 10. So there were 14 missionaries at her baptism, including....

Hermana Crockett! I got to see my trainer again!! (And thanks for the sweater Mom! Isn't it cute?) It was a very happy day for sure. I missed her a bunch.
Then the next day was Sunday. And I believe that it is now time to address a subject that I don't think I've had the courage to address up to this point. The subject is Okie talkers. Okie talkers are people from Oklahoma who talk a lot and don't filter too good. Basically whatever they think about they say. I think there should be an insert in Preach My Gospel for missionaries that are called to Oklahoma about "How to stop the Okie talker runaway train". It would be helpful. The best, though, is when you're translating Sacrament meeting like yours truly and you get an Okie talker... and then 30 minutes later your brain dies. If you ever would like to experience something like that, (don't know why you would) have someone start talking, wait a sentence, then start repeating what they say. Then imagine doing it in another language. It's a challenge. But like everything else on the mission, I love it!! It's a super great brain teaser and has already improved my Spanish.
This week we also had interviews from President Walkenhorst and he offered us all some advice.
He suggested that our purpose as missionaries is not just to find, teach, and baptize, but also to lift and edify everyone around us. He said that everyone should be better because we were there to lift them up. I don't think that this is something solely reserved for missionaries. I think that this is something we all can do. Perhaps make it a goal to make others feel better just because they were in our presence. That is what Christ would do. I promise that as we look outside ourselves we will be able to feel of the same joy that the Savior has as He serves those around Him!
Well I think this is sufficiently long and some of you have fallen asleep by now, but know that I love you and I hope all of you have a good week full of miracles and happiness!!
Con cariƱo,
Hermana Holloway
D&C 6:34-37

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus

This week was the best week ever!! Not even kidding. I can't imagine how it could have gone better. Everything about it was just lovely and wonderful.
Reason #1:

We got to go to the temple!!! This is the district. This picture pretty much captures everyone's personalities as well. We're kind of like a mini-zone because we're all spread out and in the middle of nowhere, but we're still super close. It was also really windy that day (Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains!).

And this is my comp and I. Aren't we cute, even though we're sideways?
Reason #2:
So remember that former investigator that randomly showed up at church last Sunday? Well, we met with him on Tuesday, he stopped smoking and drinking that night, he bore his testimony in Sacrament meeting yesterday, and we're setting a baptismal date tonight! It's been so CRAZY fast, but I've never seen so much determination and real intent in anybody. Most of the time we have to make multiple reminder calls to get people to keep their appointments, but Cody is looking through the window waiting for us to show up. His faith really inspires me to improve.
This week I've been thinking a lot about the New Year and what I want to do with 2014. I'll spend all of 2014 on my mission, so I thought it would be good to get a vision of what I want to accomplish/become this year. I got a copy of "The Fourth Missionary" from my companion, and read it a few times. It made me think a lot about consecration, not just as a missionary, but also in the scope of my whole life. We are told to serve God with all our "heart, might, mind, and strength" (D&C 4:2) and this applies to anyone who wants to serve God. So if you want to serve God, this applies to you.
How do we serve God with all our "heart, might, mind, and strength"? I think the best way to do that is by following our Exemplar, even Jesus Christ. He was the one perfect servant of the Lord. He says "I came into the world to do the will of the Father" (3 Nephi 27:13). Therefore, the best way, the most Christlike way, to serve God is to give Him our will and do His. After all, no matter what we sacrifice, all we are doing is giving God back what He gave us. The only thing He doesn't have is our will. The Lord said (paraphrasing C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity):
"Give me all. I don't want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your works. I want You. All of you. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man, but to kill it. No half-measures will do. I don't want to only prune a branch here and another there; rather, I want the whole tree out. Hand it all over to me, the whole outfitall of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me and I will make of you a new self in My image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart."

This is how we fulfill our divine nature and potential! The natural man must cease to be any part of us. Only then can we become like our Father. We were not meant to be mundane. We were not meant to be worldly. We were meant to be divine.
How do we do this? How do we change our natures to become like the Father? The best way is to follow the example set by the Son. In Preach My Gospel chapter 6 there are 8 Christlike attributes that missionaries are encouraged to study and apply. As we learn in the scriptures, the greatest of all of these is charity. Therefore, to consecrate ourselves to God we should seek to develop charity.

What is charity?
  • Sincere concern for others, rather then oneself (1 Corinthians 13:5)
  • An awareness of the worth of souls and the desire that none shall be lost. This desire also leads to action. (Mosiah 28:3)
  • Perfectness and peace--something we should desire above all else. (D&C 88:125)
  • Prevents a multitude of sins, but really all sins (1 Peter 4:8, see JST in footnote).
How do we develop this charity and therefore consecrate ourselves to God? Luckily both the Gospel Principles and Relief Society lesson were on this subject, so I have a pretty simple list. It all starts with your desires. Strive to desire what the Father would desire. (John 3:16, 2 Nephi 26:24) Then:
  1. Study the life of Jesus and keep His commandments. Do what the Savior would do in a given situation.
  2. Pray for greater charity when you have uncharitable feelings (Moroni 7:48)
  3. Learn to love ourselves (Matthew 22:39)
  4. Avoid thinking we are better than others.
Really, the simplicity of the Gospel is charity, trying to be like Jesus as the primary song says. If we have charity we have everything. If we do not have charity we have nothing. As we seek to follow Christ and His example, He will change us. He wants us to be like Him. He wants us to improve!
I hope that as we go forward into the new year we can all set goals and make plans to improve personally as well as as a family. I know that the Lord will bless us as we continue to move forward, always repenting and improving. I love you all, I love this work, and I love being a missionary! It's been the biggest blessing in my life.
Have a lovely week!!
Hermana Holloway
PS: another great thing to read and study is this talk. I remember watching it when it happened, but I didn't really get it until I studied it recently. It's SO GOOD!