Monday, July 28, 2014

Transfers, Trucks, and Toe Tan

(I love alliteration :) )


OH MY MERCIFUL HEAVENS TO BETSY I have to much to write about this week! I'll try to keep this email under novel-length, but no guarantees. So much has happened that it feels like a year has gone by since I left Choctaw, but in reality it's been less than a week. So I'll just do a play-by-play and if you get bored hopefully the pictures are entertaining enough.

MONDAY: Since Elder Hoddy was leaving Choctaw as well and he'd been there for 9 months as opposed to my 3, we let him decide what to do for P-Day. So we went to a member's house and played ping pong (you'll be happy to know that my hand-eye coordination has improved markedly over the course of my mission) and they fed us pizza. Then we went to the church as usual for a zone P-Day and I said goodbye to the awesome missionaries that I got to serve around, including Hna. Crockett, who goes home next week! Then we had dinner with some of our favorite members and said goodbye to Sis. Collett. That one was hard. We got really close to her in the past 3 months and didn't really want to part.

TUESDAY: More goodbyes. We had our "last supper" with Sis. Bigham and then we were going to see the Jones family, but after driving 30 minutes to the boonies we got there and he said that they were sick so they wouldn't be able to meet. So we drove 30 minutes to Braums and got ice cream before we had to go home for the night.

So I know those 2 days were kinda boring but this is where it starts getting good...

WEDNESDAY: TRANSFERS!!!! Now that I've been in the mission I know a lot more people so I was able to reconnect with a lot of missionaries that I hadn't seen in a while. I also said goodbye to Sister Lemke and Sister Loveland, my first two companions to "die". It was really sad, but I know we all need to move on with our lives eventually! Hna. Lemke sent me some pictures of her post-mish, and it was weird to see her without her nametag, but she was still wearing missionary clothes so it was less weird. I also met my new companion, Sister Adair, who is AMAZING. She's been out for about 16 months, so most likely I'll be her last companion. She's also training me on how to be an STL, so she's kind of my godmother or governess or something. Anyways, she's tons of fun and we're a lot alike. We even have the same first name! Except she spells hers wrong. So after transfers we packed up my stuff in this beauty:

That's right. We got to drive a truck! All the elders were jealous. Apparently Chevy did a huge recall on all the 2013 Cruzes (which is like 50% of the mission vehicles) so the Village people have had a bunch of rentals ever since the car got taken away in April. It was awesome though. We were pretty legit. We went straight from there to a meeting, then went home to unpack a bit and eat dinner, then went out to visit/find some people until bed!

THURSDAY: So the plan was to do some weekly planning/STL planning, have a meeting with the zone leaders, then go out and find some people until dinner. Well we didn't have enough time to plan and right after the meeting we got a call from the Chevy dealership telling us that our car was ready and that we had to come pick it up. So we then spent about 2 hours doing that, had to go straight to dinner, (which was vegan, plant-based spring rolls... pretty different from typical Okie cuisine) then as soon as we got home from dinner we reassessed our miles situation and discovered that we have almost no miles for the rest of the month. So we put the car keys away and went out on our bikes to visit Tina, who's returning to activity and is amazing. Sis. Adair said that when she was serving in OKC 3rd ward at the beginning of her mission she had met Tina, who was drinking a lot and generally making bad choices at that time. Now about a year later she's been sober for a while and is working towards returning to the temple. What a miracle!

FRIDAY: District meeting! After we went to lunch with the Spanish district which made me really happy. Then we had another meeting (nobody told me that missionary work was going to involve a lot of meetings, but it does!) and were finally able to plan almost everything! That evening we went out with a member, and of course all our appointments fell through, but we had a good time nonetheless.

SATURDAY: I think I heard someone say that it was the hottest day of the year so far. So what did we do? Go out biking of course!

It was gross, but because of that a lot of people took pity on us and gave us water. And I worked on my awesome tan lines, like my watch tan and my toe tan. Plus I think that if you show God you're willing to work hard despite your circumstances, He blesses you with miracles. That was definitely the case on Saturday. We knocked on this one lady's door, and at first she didn't even open the screen and was kind of looking us like we were the last people she wanted to see. Well Sis. Adair is a genius, and asked really quietly if we could pray with her. That got the screen open. She said that she knew LDS people and our beliefs were too different to even share a prayer. Sis. Adair didn't give up, though, and asked if she had any doubts or questions that we could help resolve. After reassuring her that she wasn't going to offend us, she opened up and shared with us some crazy and false ideas that she had about our doctrine (like if you're a woman your husband has to call you up to heaven. Haven't heard that one before!). We were able to tell her that they were false, and it was cool to see the Spirit softening her heart. The screen door, which had only been open a crack, was pushed open wider and wider until it was completely open. After we'd answered all her questions she said, "alright. let's pray". So we did then gave her an Articles of Faith card and left. No, she wasn't ready to be baptized, but we were able to plant a seed and hopefully when she meets a member or missionary she'll remember this experience.

SUNDAY: Church! Oh my goodness this ward is HUGE. It's probably a little bigger than BG2. It's definitely going to be fun trying to get to know everyone! After church we had studies and dinner and after that we went out on our bikes with some people to visit, but mostly we just talked to people. We met a super awesome couple that we're going to visit on Sunday, we prayed with someone else who said we could come back, and we committed a guy who was standing outside his house to watch theBible videos! It was super great.

All in all I'm loving city life. It's different from any of my other areas, but there are so many people and I truly feel that the field is white all ready to harvest in the Village! I'm looking forward to a transfer of miracles both with the area and with our sisters. It will be exhausting, but worth it :).

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!!!!!

Sister Holloway

PS: Here's a classy place in Harrah! No, we did not go there, just turned around in the parking lot :)

PPS: if you want my new apartment address please contact my lovely, nearly perfect mother :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Transfers otra vez!

So this week is transfers, so if you're about to send something to my apartment in Harrah, apply President Uchtdorf's counsel and STOP IT until you get my new address :), which will probably be next week.
I'm leaving behind Choctaw and going to the Village ward, which is in a pretty ritzy part of north OKC. It'll will be interesting for sure. I'm going to be serving English speaking still and will also be serving as a sister training leader! I'm kind of nervous but also excited for the new experiences and challenges. Heavenly Father has definitely blessed me with a variety of areas to work with! Most missionaries don't move around as much as I do and I really like the change!
This week was really amazing. I sent some pictures of the highlights. The first one is the baptism that we had this week for Odessa and Tana! It was so amazing and I felt the Spirit super strong for sure. These girls are just amazing. When we asked Odessa what it feels like to have repented of all her transgressions she said, "I feel like I'm worth more". WOW. Isn't that how repentance makes us feel, though? When we're in the grip of sin Satan's influence is powerful and he makes us feel worthless and like there's no hope for us at all. When we shake off those oppressive chains through repentance we feel and understand that we are children of a loving God who wants us to succeed and has made it possible for us to succeed and be better. That's a lot of wisdom from a 13-year-old!
But I got ahead of myself. A lot happened at the beginning of the week as well. We went on exchanges again on Tuesday, and I went back to OKC 2nd (where my boyfriend is) with Sister Allen this time. We had fun biking around and talking to people, and according to Sis. Lemmo they had a miracle filled day as well! They went to go see the Jones family, and Bro. Jones had been reading and praying, both the daughters sat in on the lesson, and Sis. Lemmo invited him to be baptized! He said that he doesn't feel like he's ready, but he will be soon, I think. And then they all came to church for the 2nd time and stayed all 3 hours! MIRACLE YEAH!
Then on Wednesday WE GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE!!! (sorry I don't have any pictures) Jessica West from my last area had asked if I could attend her endowment (she's getting ready to leave for the California Rancho Cucamonga mission), and I got permission so we went! Hermana Loveland was there along with other members of the ward, and it was so great to see them all, and especially great to see them in the temple.
That gets us caught up to Saturday, and then on Sunday we said good-bye to a lot of people (Elder Hoddy, who's been here 9 months, got called to be a zone leader so we both found out about transfers a day early). We also had a youth missionary fireside that evening, and committed the youth to make a new friend, invite them to church or meet with the missionaries, and befriend those that do come to church. It was really awesome and spiritual and I can tell it gave the youth a desire to do more missionary work!
I guess I should explain the other 2 pictures: the second one is our investigator James, who told me I could take a picture of him as long as he looked "country". So here's James looking country. The last one is us + the elders. We've basically become siblings, and this picture describes our relationship pretty well.
So that's been my week! There are a lot of changes coming up but I'm ready and excited! I know that the Lord is at the head of the missionary work here in the Oklahoma City mission, so as long as I do what He says I'll be fine and the mission will prosper. I love you all and hope you have a lovely week full of miracles!!
Con much carino,
Hermana Holloway
PS: Video of the week! Baptism is an essential ordinance for salvation!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A week full of tender mercies...

This week was just SO HAPPY!! I took a lot of pictures too! I might need 2 emails just to get them all to you!
...and of course the computer is being really really silly and it won't let me just insert the pictures so I'll have to attach them.

So we had a really great zone meeting this week that was all about finding through the Atonement and really becoming fishers of men. Our zone leaders are INCREDIBLE (I just can't say that enough) and after the meeting I really want to work hard at overcoming my shyness and dislike of talking to people and just talk to EVERYONE. So far it's been going well :). Hna. Crockett is in the zone too, so we took a 3 generation picture. Aren't weadorable??
I also wanna send a shout out to everyone who sent me birthday wishes through mail or email! It was great to feel the love and know that I'm not forgotten! (special shout out to those of you who posted on my Facebook wall... I'm sure I'll love them when I see them next April ;) ) It was super fun to spend my birthday on the mission. Even though we didn't have a big party, I still got to spend it doing what I love (missionary work) with the people I love. One of our members made me BBQ chicken and cupcakes for dinner and even cooked some rice because she knows it's my favorite. Even the elders gave me a gift:

Yes, they did actually give me a bag of rice and a Book of Mormon. They know me so well!
And then there was a really awesome full moon on my birthday but I couldn't really take any pictures that would do it justice, so sorry. You had to be there.
Anyways this week we've really been gearing up for Odessa and Tana's baptism which is this Saturday! We're so stoked!! The girls are getting really excited as well and it's amazing how much more sensitive they are to the Spirit now. The just want to live all the commandments and do what Heavenly Father wants them to do. It's going to be an amazing day for sure.
James also came to church this week! And he stayed for all three hours, which is totally unheard of for investigators! He really liked it and said that it brought up a lot of questions, which we LOVE because questions are the gateway to revelation (I just made that up, but it sounds good). He also got some really good fellowship from the members, probably because he was easily identifiable as a visitor (he was the only non-white person in the building, was sitting with the missionaries and was wearing overalls and an aloha shirt). But I think there's a good chance of him coming back!
 We also had a really good lesson last night with Sis. Collett and her granddaughter. Her granddaughter has been struggling with her testimony quite a bit and doesn't really want to be a part of the church right now. We watched this video with her, which brought the Spirit really strongly, readMatthew 11:28-30, and bore testimony about how coming unto Jesus Christ can make our burdens light. We talked about how we come unto Christ by reading about Him (scriptures), talking to Him (prayer), and visiting His house (going to church) and that by doing those 3 simple things we can build our lives on His firm foundation. The Spirit was so strong and she committed to read and pray every night if we sent a scripture to read everyday.
It's just amazing to me how much Jesus Christ has changed my life and continues to change it everyday. I've gotten so close to Him during these past 9 months and I have a constant desire to get to know Him better. He is my Savior and Redeemer, and it is through Him that I receive my joy and peace.
I love you all and I hope your week is as amazing as mine has been. I'mSO SO SO grateful for this opportunity to serve.
I love you all!
Hermana Holloway
PS: here's a bonus picture. Sometimes Heavenly Father blesses me with beautiful moments that can be captured forever.

Here are a few additional birthday pictures that she put in her letter to me. Thank you to all who remembered her on her birthday...I am so thankful for the sweet Bigham family in Oklahoma who took her in for her birthday and made it special!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy 4th of July/Double Decades?!

This week was a LOVELY week and we had such a LOVELY holiday! There were a lot of people at the lake this weekend which made some of our proselyting efforts a bit complicated, but we were still able to see a lot of people.
I think suburban/rural Oklahoma is a great place to be on the 4th of July. First of all, people here LOVE America so they have some pretty awesome celebrations. Second of all, all fireworks of any description are legal outside of the city limits, so you can buy whatever you want and then go crazy. Some people spent literally hundreds or thousands of dollars just on fireworks. The family that we spent the 4th with hadn't bought tons of fireworks, but their neighbors had so as soon as we were done with ours we just sat back and watched theirs.
I also discovered this awesome fireworks setting on my camera that makes awesome pictures like this:

and this:

It was a good day :). But what was even better was that two days before, completely out of the blue, Bro. Jones (from the part-member family that we taught for the first time like a month ago and then they've fallen off the face of the earth) texted us and asked if we could come and visit them the next day!!! For those of you unfamiliar with missionary work, that NEVER happens. Usually we have to nag and nag and nag until they set up an appointment. So of course we went over (we would've crawled if we'd had to) and it turns out that Bro. Jones had read like 18 chapters in 1 Nephi and had a lot of good questions. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and he LOVED it, and then they came to church on Sunday!! It was a crazy amazing miracle. PLUS he gave us homemade cherry jelly, which I've been eating for breakfast pretty much every morning since. Life isGOOD.
Earlier this week we also went and visited the Easteps (the really old less-active couple that came to church last week), and Bro. Eastep wasn't there so we just visited with Sis. Eastep for a while. Just as we were about to leave, Bro. Eastep showed up with a bunch of corn, and with a huge smile on his face he said "I'm so glad you're here! Now I can put you to work!" Then he made us shuck corn for him. It was pretty fun, though, and we got some farm fresh corn out of it! That man just cracks me up. He's so ornery.
We also had a good lesson with our investigator, James. Well actually we did a church tour with him, but he really liked it. We just showed him around our building, pointing out the pictures and some of the rooms that would be pertinent to him, and then we ended in the chapel. We explained the Sacrament and enjoyed the Spirit. He told us after that before the church tour he hadn't really planned on coming to church with us, but now he's really curious about everything and wants to see how church works for us. Miracle of a church tour! They work!
I think those are pretty much the most exciting things that have been going on around here. We just keep working hard and trying to improve. I think one of the best parts about being a missionary is the chance to see the Atonement work in my life and see the miraculous effect it has had on me. I really feel like I've been changed throughout this whole process and refined into what God wants me to be.
Well that's all for this week. I hope y'all have an awesome and amazing week full of miracles and that you always can recognize the hand of the Lord in your life because He is always there!
Hermana Holloway
PS: the double decades part of the title refers to how old I'll be on Saturday. I think this means that I need to start acting mature... we'll see :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Does that say Lame-O???"

Aloha friends!!!
So you're probably wondering about the title. Well this week my companion changed her name (no she did not get married). Apparently the name that she went by back home was "Lemmo", but she had to put her legal name ("Peterson") on the mission papers and we just barely got the new tags at zone conference on Tuesday. Well later that week we were visiting Sister Collett when she stopped mid-conversation, stared at my companion's nametag for a couple of seconds with a bewildered expression, and said "does that say Lame-o?!?!?" I died laughing!
This week we had a really amazing zone conference. The main theme of my mission president's training was progress. He pointed out that the most fun thing to do in life is to change and be better. I could totally relate to this. When I started running, it was a great feeling when I could run a mile without stopping, then I could do 2, and then I worked my way up to 3! Then finishing the Spartan race (if I could I would insert a picture of the muddy mess that was the Spartan race here) it was like the best feeling ever!! The same principle applies to spiritual growth. Recognizing where you've grown spiritually is not as easy to measure, but there is definitely a great feeling of satisfaction when you see that growth. I think that one of my biggest take-aways from the conference was that I need to find more joy in my spiritual growth rather than focusing on where I still have to grow. When I finished the Spartan Race, my first thought was not "I'm so disappointed that I could only do the shortest one", it was "that was so awesome!!! Look at what I just did!! Now with a little more work I can do a longer one."
Heavenly Father is infinitely patient and kind with our faults, and only asks that we keep moving forward, even if we slide backwards. I love this scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 64:2:
For verily say unto you, will that ye should overcome‍ the world;wherefore will have compassion‍ upon you. 
There's no sense of frustration that after all this time we haven't overcome the world yet, just a loving promise that He will help us to do so.
It was a pretty incredible conference.
A couple more cool experiences from the week:
We had a few more minutes before dinner on Friday so we decided to get gas because we were running a little low. Well the first gas station we stopped at was a little sketch and the pumps didn't work, so we decided to skip the gas and just go to dinner. Well lo and behold on our way there we saw another gas station and stopped there. This guy came up to pump our gas (which I was not expecting at all and therefore didn't know what I was supposed to do) and as I was explaining about how he had to put in the vehicle number and odometer because it's part of the mission fleet, he asked what it was for and whatnot. I explained that we were missionaries and he said that when he lived in California there were sisters that used to visit him and he's been to the temples over there!! It was awesome and really cool how we were inspired to go to that gas station. He didn't agree to meet with missionaries again, but he did take our phone number.
And then finally the Easteps came to church! The old couple that we committed to come 2 weeks ago!! They were there and really enjoyed it. Everyone was really shocked to see them. Bro. Eastep was as ornery as usual, but that's to be expected.
Ok, and finally, I have pictures!!

This is at Sis. Bigham's house. She has a tradition of having the missionaries over for breakfast whenever a new one comes in and the traditional food is biscuits and chocolate gravy!! It's SO delicious. If you think that sounds gross it's just because you've never tried it :)

One thing about being in the buckle of the bible belt is that you see things like this all the time. It's a business card for a garage door company that someone hung up at the Laundromat that says "Smile, Jesus Loves You!" Only in Oklahoma!

Sunset!! Sometimes when we're driving down the road and there's a gorgeous sunset we stop in the middle of the road and take a picture of it. Luckily we're in the middle of nowhere so there's nothing but fields.
That's all for this week! Remember to smile because LIFE IS GOOD!
~Sister Holloway