Monday, April 28, 2014

Transfer Time!!!

So for those of you just tuning in, this week has been a lot of preparation for my upcoming move to Choctaw, OK with my new companion who has yet to be revealed to me. I got to go to a meeting for all the trainers this week and I've been studying the 12 week program for new missionaries so I'll be ready. I'm really excited, though, and I'm sure that she'll teach me more than I could ever teach her!
Also, I don't have my new address for the apartment there so if you want to send me anything, just send it to the office for now (416 SW 79th St Ste 201, Oklahoma City, OK 73139) and they'll forward it. Or you can wait until next week and my mom will email you my new address. But I always love getting mail (hint, hint) and I'd love to hear from you whoever you may be!
But enough of that. Here's some highlights from my crazy week:
MONDAY: We went to the little air and space museum here in Weatherford, which apparently is home to Tom Stafford, who was on the Apollo mission before the one that landed on the moon (I think number 11). It was a cute little museum, but I think the coolest part about it was that in the photo of Tom Stafford's graduating class we found the late husband of this old lady that we do service for. Also there was a cockpit that you could play in and you could take pictures of yourself as an astronaut!

TUESDAY: We went to the dentist (yay)! And we got in with some less active members that it's pretty hard to get in with and was able to start building a good relationship with them! That may not seem like a huge miracle, but small and simple things are how great things come to pass. Then that night we ding dong ditched some ice cream on one of our member's porches because they were having a hard time. The only problem is that we got caught...
WEDNESDAY: We went to the city this day for the trainer's meeting. It was amazing and inspiration. Basically I just want to help my baby be really excited about being a missionary and also siphon off some of her excitement to add it to mine. I think it's going to be really important to be a good example to her because you really emulate your companions, especially your trainer. Then later we were going to go to English class, but it got cancelled because of a really anticlimactic thunderstorm. So instead we had a lesson with Cody! He's doing so great!!!! He's seriously the best recent convert in the world. He's an awesome missionary, takes his calling as assistant secretary in the Elder's Quorum very seriously, is focused on the temple, and is starting family history!! He's only been a member for like 3 months too!!! Talk about a future bishop. :)

THURSDAY: We went to the dentist for round two!! Good news, no cavities! Then I had my last lunch at Lucille's (this really awesome local restaurant) and got a pink camo shirt to remember the place. Sam should be so proud. Then we had an awesome lesson with one of our recent converts named Sadie and her cousin. Sadie joined the church because her grandma is a member so the sisters started teaching her and she got baptized. The only problem is is that her parents aren't members and the other grandma that she lives with is kind of anti. But Sadie is so awesome and LOVES the church and the Book of Mormon so we try to see her as much as we can. Then we drove the back way to Clinton for Bible Study because they live in the middle of nowhere, and this picture makes me think that sometimes Oklahoma can rival Hawaii in terms of the most beautiful state:
FRIDAY: Some of our plans fell through (shocker) so as a backup we decided to visit this less active family that we've never been able to teach because of one reason or another. The mom answered the door and looked just miserable. She told us that on top of her other health issues she had scratched her cornea in 2 places and wasn't feeling the best so she wouldn't be able to meet with us. We asked her if she'd like aPriesthood blessing and she agreed, so we came by a few hours later with some men. They gave her the most beautiful blessing, and I know that it helped. I'm so grateful for the power of the Priesthood!
SATURDAY: We did some service for our old ladies. Between painting and gardening we were able to soak up some of the spring sun. It was lovely!!
SUNDAY: After a lovely last Sunday in the Clinton Ward we had a lesson with one of our part member families that went really well!! At least it was much better than usual!! Also we had a lot of less active members come to church, so that was really happy. I also had to start packing which was not so happy.  It was super windy this weekend too(more than usual), and it kicked up a bunch of the good ol' Oklahoma red dirt until the sky looked like this:

Let's just say that I was having flashbacks to the Dust Bowl. Luckily the wind has died down a bit and the dirt has settled so it's pretty much normal now.
Well there you have it!! Next week I'll be writing you from Choctaw! I hope you all have a lovely lovely week. Your reading assignment for the week is found here. Enjoy!
Sister Holloway (English baby!)

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's a GIRL!!!

So guess what!! I'm having a baby!! Which, in mission speak, (for those who don't know) means that I'm going to be training next transfer!! That's not all, though, because I'm not staying in Weatherford to train. Instead, I'm going to Choctaw to open up a new area with my hija! So remember how I opened my first transfer? Well I'll be doing the same thing, just in the driver seat this time. Exciting? for sure. Terrifying? Absolutely. But I think it'll also be a great opportunity to grow and learn to rely more on the Lord.
Anyways, I don't have tons of time to email this week but i just wanted to talk a bit about Easter. The talks that we had in Sacrament meeting this Sunday were great and it was wonderful to reflect on what the Atonement means in my life. I realize that I have almost no comprehension of what the Atonement is, but my understand increases bit by bit through striving to apply it to my life. I was reviewing conference a bit and I especially loved this talk by Elder Bednar. Probably one of my favorite quotes is as follows:

"Not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam and make possiblethe remission of our individual sins and transgressions, but His Atonement also enables us to do good andbecome better in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities. Most of us know that when we dothings wrong and need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has made it possible forus to become clean through His redeeming power. But do we also understand that the Atonement is forfaithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to becomebetter and serve more faithfully? wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of theAtonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone—through sheer grit,willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.

It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to the earth to die for us. But we also need to appreciate thatthe Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to enliven us—not only toguide but also to strengthen and heal us."
I would just like to challenge each of you to try to understand and apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ more fully in your lives. It is truly the thing that changes, empowers, and blesses us more than anything else.
Sorry this is so short and utterly devoid of funny anecdotes or pictures, but I promise next week will be better!
Con mucho cariño,
Hermana Holloway

Monday, April 14, 2014

And so it begins.....

Como estan? Bien? Que bueno!

Anyways, I'd just like to start by giving a big shout out to the youth of the Temecula Creek Ward (maybe the stake too... not really sure) for their happy big envelope full of letters! Thanks especially to all y'all who don't even know me and just wrote to some random missionary that's Trevor and Sam's sister. I really appreciate it. While I can survive without mail, it is very encouraging to get mail.
 Also, Sam, nice try trying to pass off your letter as your friend's. I know your handwriting fool! :)
We had a SUPER good week this week. I would show you pictures but I just realized that I left my camera at home so this will just be a little bit more boring!

MONDAY: We had a zone P-Day and STM (specialized training meeting) that was all about faith, especially faith to find. This was perfect because Hna Loveland and I have been struggling a bit to find people in Weatherford, but we know there's a family out here just waiting for the gospel! So we're leading more with our faith and praying for the ability to recognize the prepared when they come.

TUESDAY: This was the day of the massive amounts of food. We had lunch and dinner lined up, then the Elders reminded us that weeks ago we'd planned another lunch with a member of the ward who loves the missionaries but hardly ever gets to do anything with us because he's kind of old and lives in Thomas. So we ate at Braums first, then at the Chinese Buffet, then at a Mexican Restaurant, all while trying to pretend that they were the only meal we had that day. Needless to say, I didn't get hungry again until halfway through Wednesday. I LOVE the members here to death, but sometimes I'm afraid they might kill me!

WEDNESDAY: We did more service! We walked Hazel's dogs then planted grass and flowers. Yard work isn't so bad when you're doing it for someone else and they make you dinner after. :)

THURSDAY: We had the most amazing church tour with our investigator Natalie! She's been taught a lot but hasn't really been progressing, so we thought that  the best way to help her would be for her to come to church, and in order to help her come to church we planned a church tour so she'd be familiar with the building and also be able to feel the Spirit there. It was amazing! One of the Elder's recent converts that lives in Clinton came (she just got baptized in January) and she and Natalie really connected. Turns out that Cindy's had a lot of the same questions that Natalie's had so she was really able to speak to her needs. After Cindy said "I just tried to say what was in my heart." That definitely taught ME a lesson in following the Spirit!
FRIDAY: We had a great District Meeting and then had dinner with Aunt Dona in the evening. We've been trying to get her to come to church forever and after our lesson on the Plan of Salvation she committed to come!
SATURDAY: After a baptism in the morning (a kid in the elder's area) we went out tracting, and all of the doors we knocked on let us pray with them and we got a return appointment with a family! Then we had our usual dinner with the Arney family, and they once again have a nonmember living with them who is SUPER nice and SUPER open. She was just asking us all these questions and she's the kind of person that I could be friends with in real life. After dinner Sis. Arney told her "you're going to be baptized. I know you don't think so now but you will be". I have to agree with her. A lot of nonmembers that live with the Arneys get baptized!

SUNDAY: So you remember the Ramirez family from Norman? I think this is what I've said about them before:

"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!...

In other news, WE'RE TEACHING A FAMILY!!!!!!!! Woo hoo!!! We went over to see the Ramirez family on Wednesday and we had a Family Home Evening with them. It was fantastic. We gave them all copies of the Book of Mormon and we got Jose a big one because he has trouble seeing. Mom, remember that green ribbon you sent me in my greenie package? Well I used it to tie around the Book of Mormons that we gave out and they all loved it. It was great to show people how the Book of Mormon really is a precious gift. I have high hopes for the Ramirez family. They are SO humble and SO teachable. They've been waiting for the gospel, I can tell."

Well yesterday JUAN RAMIREZ GOT BAPTIZED!!! He's one of the grandchildren and he's 11. And super awesome. I got to go back to Norman for it, and when we got off the freeway it seriously felt like I was home. Plus pretty much the whole branch showed up for the baptism and when Hna. Ochoa saw me she literally started crying. It was amazing! It was so hard to leave again, but I know I'll see them again sometime.

Anyways, during the service Presidente Ochoa talked about how Juan was the pioneer for his family and that he would bring many people into the gospel because of his good example. I totally believe that that's true. He's a special kid. I think his parents and grandparents are dragging their feet a little bit on baptism, but I feel confident that Juan will make the difference. It's always so happy to see people that you love doing what you know God wants them to do. I know that Heavenly Father has big plans for little Juan Ramirez and he'll accomplish much good! This work is the BEST!!
I hope you enjoy this novel! Sorry it's so long and so pictureless. I'll bring my camera next time so I can show you the happiness.
Hermana Holloway
PS: the title refers to OK storms. For example, yesterday was a balmy 91 degrees, then a storm rolled through with wind, rain, lightning, thunder, and hail. Now it's snowing. Basically it dropped 50+ degrees in less than 24 hours. Oh Oklahoma...
PPS: Here's your inspirational article for the week! It's super good you should read it!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Special Features

The making of the cake:

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Yep this is the batter

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You're supposed to pour it in layers, but we had a 9x13 instead of a round pan... 
therefore we just got a little creative.

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And this is it post bake and milk and pre-frost!

Primeramente Dios

Well this week was pretty darn amazing! I think I'll just cut to the chase and talk about some of the highlights that happened:
I got artwork from children in the mail!!!!! Nothing makes my day like pictures from kids. Now they're hanging by my desk, right next to the mustache picture from Hna. Lemke!

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It was Cody's birthday!!!! So we made him a rainbow tres leches cake because we could. After we finished we realized that it was really girly... and most people do not decorate cakes with broccoli (broccoli is his favorite vegetable) but we knew he'd like it anyways.
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Here's the finished product! See the "special features" portion of this update for pictures on making this masterpiece.
We did a ton of service this week! I don't have any pictures, but we walked dogs, washed windows, planted flowers, and pulled weeds for more hours than any sane human being would want. But service is the best! You get to wear pants and be outside and help others with things that they need. Seriously, if you're ever feeling down, go out and do some service.
General Conference!! It was amazing for 2 reasons:
First, because the messages were really great and inspiring and answered my prayers as they always do. I loved Elder Uchtdorf's talk about using gratitude to overcome our trials. I think that's so true! It is so much better to have a positive attitude through the tough times and gratitude for what we do have rather than focusing on what we lack. Attitude makes all the difference! Be sure to watch conference here if you haven't already!
Second, because we had Mary there! I don't think I spent enough time talking about how amazing she is last week. SHE'S BASICALLY THE MOST AMAZING PERSON I'VE EVER MET!! Last week she didn't come to church because her little granddaughter was sick, but this week she came to the Sunday Morning session of conference with 7 kids under the age of 7 and one 12 year old. As you can imagine, it was pretty crazy. There is no possible way that they could sit still for 2 hours, so Hermana Loveland and I commandeered some toys from the nursery and went back into to overflow with Mary and the munchkins. Luckily we were able to get the Spanish translation from Salt Lake (which is much better than mine!) so we entertained the ninos while Mary and Laura (the 12 year old) listened to conference across the room. They were all very well-behaved (with one exception)and were content to play quietly. As a result, I didn't hear much of that session, but we thought it was much more important for Mary to hear it. She loved it too and wants to come back to church again! Her one worry was that we wouldn't let her back with her crazy kids but we'll have primary from here on out so that'll be no problem! She's just so incredible. She's so humble and believing and loving. Her motto is"Primeramente Dios", which means "God first". And she lives it too! Never once has she complained about taking care of her daughter's kids as well as her own or the inconvenience or burden that they could be. Instead, she focuses on their needs before her own and loves them unconditionally. I really think that I'm learning more from her than she's learning from me.
Anyways, all is well in Oklahoma land. I hope you all have a lovely lovely week and that you can readily recognize the Lord's hand in your life. And if you haven't yet, 
Hermana Holloway
PS: last Sunday my comp and I dressed like this without even planning
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Love this!

General Conference is Almost Here!!!

SPRING IS HERE!! EVERYTHING IS GROWING AND BEAUTIFUL!! So because of that I figured out where the name bluegrass comes from! It's because all of the grass in the South grows blue! 

Por ejemplo, here's some blue grass that we found in Thomas:
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Isn't that awesome!?
...but really, it's just a pesticide or a weedicide that everyone puts on their grass. The grass isn't really blue :).
Anyhoo this week was super awesome. The weather was bipolar as usual (pretty sure I had to wear boots and leggings on Wednesday then by Thursday it was 70s again) but the overall trend is warmer. Warmer means many wonderful things... like birds and blossoms and baby cows (so cute) but also...
All of the old timers say that tornado season's coming! Pretty soon the winds will howl (more than they already do), thunder will ka-boom!, and all of the missionaries will be doing tornado cleanup. Other than Christmas it's the most wonderful time of the year!
I'm just a little excited.
This week was also full of miracles, as usual. For example, the Clinton elders gave us a Spanish referral(because in case I didn't mention before we teach just Spanish in Clinton because there are English elders there) and she's like the most solid person ever! She was ready to pack up her 9 children (that's right, 9 of them!) and come to church after the first lesson! I think that I love her so much because she's super humble. She offered one of the most sincere prayers that I've ever heard too. There was nothing that felt repetitious and she really talked to God humbly and as her Father. Her humble prayer felt more powerful than most others I've heard. Wow! I definitely need to improve in that aspect!
Remember the old ladies that we're doing service for? Well we walked dogs for them this week! There were 4 altogether, 2 fluffy ones, and 2 big fluffy ones. They have a German shepherd that's kind of my favorite. Whenever little dogs come up to her and start barking their heads off she just looks at them like she's so much more civilized than they are. (which she is!)
Then we taught Katherine the stop smoking workshop! I think about half of the people here smoke (give or take)so the Word of Wisdom can often be an obstacle when people want to get baptized. Not everyone can just randomly quit cold turkey like Cody (he's special), so we teach people how to stop smoking whenever we can! The workshop is basically a bunch of things that they do everyday for 7 days to get ride of the urge to smoke. It's been proven to be really effective and I'm really excited to see Katherine's results because she is ready and excited to get baptized!
We also had a really great and inspiring zone conference! My mission president is the best! He always encourages us to work as hard as we can (of course) but he also encourages us to have fun, because if you're not enjoying missionary work, what's the point? Man is that he might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25), so whatever you do (especially in the gospel) enjoy it!
And then, probably the biggest blessing from the week was the General Women's Meeting!! It was so amazing!! If you're a woman and you haven't watched it, watch it right now by clicking here. You'll be glad you did.
Something that really stood out to me was the theme between this and the last Women's Broadcast from 6 months ago. (if you care to review it you can check it out here and scroll down to the bottom) Both of them centered on making and keeping covenants. I think that if that is the central theme of both meetings it's something that we should pay attention to! I can't post quotes yet because they don't have the written copies of the talks out, but I think Bonnie L. Oscarson's was my favorite because she focused so much on how keeping our covenants is reflected in our discipleship, especially when it comes to loving and taking care of each other. That makes me think that the Gospel is not a set of rules to follow, but a life (Christ's) that we must emulate. When contemplating a course of action, our thoughts should not be "is this in line with the commandments?", but rather, "what would Jesus Christ do in this situation?" If that becomes the principle that guides our actions, we will be a more Christlike people!
But anyways. I wish I could go on, but this is already a book and I'm sure you have a lot more missionary blogs that you have to check! ;) Moral of the story, if you haven't already, watch the broadcast. Also,watch General Conference! I know that if you do that then you will find personal revelation and guidance from modern-day prophets!!
Con cariño,
Hermana Holloway
There's a town outside of OKC called Bethany! Apparently there's also someone named Kathi Holloway involved as well... but I have no idea who she is or what "COUNCIL WARD 2" means. It's cool though!
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Sometimes because we live really far away we have to leave for conferences at the crack of dawn and then get to enjoy the sunrise!
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