Monday, August 25, 2014

In the strength of the Lord I can do hard things

Man, this week has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. It has also been one of the most fulfilling and faith-building. Here's a bit about how it went:
MONDAY: We spent all day ministering to some sisters, which means that P-day was not very relaxing and there were no sports to release my frustration. On top of that we had to go on exchanges starting that night, so we pretty much had no breaks. Not gonna lie, I was not a happy camper. But I kept praying for the strength to make it through the next 5 minutes, and the Lord granted me the grace I needed. No, He did not make my life easier, but He made me equal to the task.
TUESDAY: I was on exchanges all day with Sis. Winberg, who is so wonderful and was a bright ray of sunshine for me. She gave me the perfect opportunity to look outside myself as I talked to her and served her on that exchange. As a result the self-pitying feelings that I had melted away as I immersed myself in her struggles and helped her through them. I now have a testimony that this scripture is true:
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose‍ his life for my sake shall find‍ it.
As I have lost myself in service to others, I have found strength, talents, and abilities that had not been there before.
The whole experience took a lot out of me, though, so at the end of the day I totally crashed.
WEDNESDAY: We went and visited a less-active lady who's trying to come back in the morning, and it turns out that she lived in Samoa for a few years and as a result was all into the island life and we reminisced for a while. I don't usually get trunky, but that almost made me trunky. Plus it was like a billion degrees outside and she kept talking about how she was going to clean her pool and then go swimming... But don't worry. I'm all refocused now. Later that day we had a really awesome miracle. Our appointment cancelled, so we went to go check on a referral that we'd gotten earlier that day from She wasn't home, but her neighbor was sitting on the stairs so we started chatting with him. Turns out that he'd prayed for a "church home" two days ago and then we showed up! I LOVE it when we're obviously in the right place at the right time.
THURSDAY: WE WENT TO THE TEMPLE!!!! It was such a spiritual high. I LOVE going to the temple as a missionary. You get to go with all your friends!
Later that evening we had kind of a spiritual low. We went to meet Dustin, this guy who had texted us and said that he'd met with missionaries before, given them a list of questions to answer, and then they'd never gotten back to him. We thought this could go one of two ways: he could be the greatest miracle in the history of missionary work or he could be crazy. Unfortunately it was the latter. He legitimately had questions and said that if they were answered he'd get baptized immediately, but he wouldn't listen when we tried to answer them. What was worse was that the Spirit was not there at all, so there was no point in us being there or trying to reason with him because without the Spirit we could not teach. Fortunately we scheduled him for the last hour of the day, so we didn't get stuck there for hours. It was interesting to see how when the work is progressing (and it has been a lot in this area) Satan's opposition also increases. But overall it was a good day, because the power of God always trumps the power of Satan.
FRIDAY: More exchanges! (see why I'm so tired?). I was with Sis. Odom this time, who's an awesome sister even though she's only been out about 6 months. I think I learned more from her that she did from me. We went to see Comesha and Elijah and Sis. Adair told me they needed to be taught the Plan of Salvation. Well when we got there Comesha said that she'd been taught that recently. Luckily when you have the Spirit it's very easy to improvise, so we ended up reading the first story in the children's Book of Mormon by switching from that to the regular Book of Mormon so Elijah could get more exposure to the B of M but still understand it. It ended up being really great!
SATURDAY: We had a lesson with Angie about the Doctrine of Christ and it was AWESOME! She's still so prepared. She's been having some health challenges unfortunately but she's really excited and ready to get baptized. AND SHE'D READ!!! It was a miracle :).
SUNDAY: We had a fairly good day at church. Comesha, Elijah, Angie, and Myrianna all said that they'd come to church but bailed at the last minute. Darn 8 o'clock monster. We still had Josie there, though, as well as some less-actives so it was happy. The Gospel Principles lesson was on charity, and it made me take a good look at my motives. Why am I doing this? I love to serve the Lord, but I also love worldly recognition (who doesn't right?). Which is the more dominant motivation at a given time? It's something that I have to check a lot, but I think most of the time charity wins. That afternoon we went to visit Landon, who at first had been like, "no I'm not going to read the Book of Mormon". BUT when we taught him this time he said, "I should really be reading the Book of Mormon." WHAT?!?!?! Miracle! The Lord softens hearts!!!!! This man has so much potential! I'm really excited for him.
Well that was my week. Hope you liked it. I sure did, and I'm excited for the additional challenges that this week will bring (I think it's supposed to be hotter).
~Hermana Holloway
1. the Quail Creek Zone
2. Village crew! (us plus the elders)
3. Gettin' all artsy! I should be a photographer
PS: the inspiration for the title is this talk

Monday, August 18, 2014

I had a really great title and then I lost it...

Holy cowpies this has been a crazy busy week! SO MUCH GOING ON I LOVE IT!! Here's what we did:
MONDAY: We did my favorite thing for P-day: play basketball! It's such a great way to get all your frustration out... I just wish I was better at playing. Oh well. Embarrassment is good for the soul I guess. Then we visited our recent convert, Paula, who is AMAZING and is starting temple prep! She gets to go in March! Her nonmember son was there too and according to Paula our visit sparked a lot of good conversation between them. I love it when we leave the Spirit behind in someone's house :).
TUESDAY: We were going to help someone move today, but they ended up cancelling last minute. So instead we biked a couple of miles in the good ol' Okie heat to visit Sis. Cloud who's a less-active that's a little out there but we love her. That evening we went to see Mimi and Tati, who are sisters. Tati is less active, and Mimi got baptized but never confirmed so now she's our investigator. We brought a sister from the ward, and I guess it was inspiration or something because she totally clicked with them and was able to become like a mother figure (which is what they really need). It was perfect!
WEDNESDAY: We had an AMAZING zone STM about raising our own zone title of liberty. We all set goals about things that we want to improve on in our companionships within the framework of our zone culture. We (sis. Adair and I) also gave a training about personal conversion (as I think I alluded to last week)and people said they liked it. Hopefully they weren't just being nice :). Then we had an awesome lesson with Comesha and Elijah about keeping the Sabbath day holy! They loved it and totally saw how it could bless their lives! Then we had a lesson with two new investigators, Diane and Tim. It was kinda awkward at first because when Sis. Bishop and Sis. Adair first met them Sis. Bishop was all interested in buying essential oils from them. So Diane actually called us to set up the appointment. When she noticed an obvious lack of Sis. Bishop when we walked in, she was kinda like "well why are you here then?". To preach the gospel of course! She didn't really like that but her husband wanted to listen so we just ran with it and by the end when we asked if we could come back SHE was the one who said yes. I LOVE THE SPIRIT!!! Then that evening our appointment cancelled so we ended up going to see Tina instead, who's a member that we're working with because she's got a lot of struggles. While we were waiting for her we ended up chatting with one of her roommates for a while and we decided there was a lot of good potential there :). God always puts us in the places we need to be!
THURSDAY: We had interviews with Pres. W and it was awesome. He gave me exactly the counsel that I needed. What a Christlike and inspired man! We're so lucky to have him here. I also got to go to the chiropractor for free because there's a member in the 3rd ward who sees all the missionaries for free and will help the companion of the missionary that has the appointment. Then we had a lesson with Josie, and it went really well again. We set an official baptismal date of October 3rd, and when we asked if she wanted to be baptized on that day she started screaming and laughing and clapping her hands! It was the most enthusiastic response that I've ever had!
FRIDAY: Exchanges! I brought Sis. Hardester to my area. She's a visa-waiter that came out with me (she actually just got her visa like 2 weeks ago so she's headed to Brazil in Sept.). She's super hard working and has a great attitude so we just went out and worked our fannies off and talked to everyone and had a super amazing lesson with Angie! It was one of those exchanges where you're like "why can't we just be companions??" Angie is doing really well though. She was sick all week, and her phone hasn't been working, but when we were planning on Thursday night we decided to try again and it worked! Huzzah! We taught the plan of salvation, and she LOVED it and wanted to be sure that everyone at church knew that she was going to be baptized on September 6th! She's so prepared. Then we had a lesson with Cassie and Bryon, who are less active. Cassie would be active but she's kind of held back by her husband, who doesn't really take anything about the church seriously. He was on his BEST behavior during the lesson, though, and even agreed to read the chapter we left with his family. We chose 1 Nephi 4 because it's something that would interest him.
SATURDAY: We went to see Comesha and Elijah again and reemphasized the Sabbath day(we really wanted them to come to church!) and showed them the new Mormon message. Sis. Goewey came with us and offered them a ride and someone to sit by which is SO IMPORTANT for getting people to church! That evening nothing really spectacular happened, we just rode around on our bikes and tried a bunch of people who weren't home. It happens.
SUNDAYTHERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE AT CHURCH! We had Comesha, Elijah, Tieasha, Tieasha's friend, Angie, and Cassie. It was GREAT but also really really stressful because you have to make sure they're all happy and having a good experience. Everyone had a good time, though, and want to keep coming back! One of the biggest challenges with getting people to come to church here is definitely the fact that it starts at 8am. Nobody wants to go that early. After church and ward council and lunch we had a good lesson with Landon. He hadn't read the Book of Mormon, so we spent a lot of time explaining more of the purpose and reading parts of it with him. He doesn't want to start reading until he has a reason to do so, which is a little backwards I think. It's like trying to put the miracle before the faith which is the opposite of how God works. So we're going to have to keep working on that. We spent the evening doing some ward roster cleaning and seeing who was there and who wasn't. Pretty chill.
Well there you have it! Absolute insanity. I don't know how we have time for it all, but somehow God helps us fit it all in and still have some juice at the end of the day to help our sisters. I have definitely learned that the Atonement is what gives me the strength to live day by day and that it covers all the small things, not just the big ones. Because let's be honest, it's the small things that we need the most help with.
I think this a scripture that applies:

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for goodyea, when thou liest down atnight lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in themorning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the lastday.
I used to counsel with the Lord only when I had a life-changing decision to make. Now I realize that the Lord is involved in EVERY part of my life and that I need His help in every action I take. If we truly are counseling with the Lord and thinking about what He would do before we act, think, or speak, then we cannot go wrong.
I love you all! Have a FABULOUS week!

Hermana Bethani Holloway
PS: this is Don Carlos. He's the minivan that we got to drive around for about a week while our Cruze was in the shop. Still having fun time with cars!

Monday, August 11, 2014

So much to do, so little time!

This week has been crazy and busy and tons of fun. We've gone to meeting given trainings and gone on exchanges and taught investigators and talked to people and studied and gone to church and knocked on doors and prepared lessons and basically just done everything that keeps a missionary happy. Here's some of the highlights:
We had another good lesson with Comesha and Elijah and Tiesha. We taught them the 10 commandments, and I was a little surprised because they didn't know them. I guess I've always taken them for granted because I didn't realize that there were people who had no idea what they contained (silly, I know. But it just never occurred to me!). They're such a foundation for everything we should be doing morally. If people would just live the 10 commandments the world would be a much better place. Anyways, that lesson went well and we committed them to come to church, which they did not do because they had a party. Boo lame excuse! They'll be there this week though!
Josie, this autistic girl that we're teaching, has been progressing really well. It's hard for her to comprehend a lot of things, but at our last lesson she was paying attention really well and was really into it. It's been pretty great because Sis. Adair has experience in Special Ed teaching so she knows how to connect with them.
We taught this new guy named Landon that we met on the street about 2 weeks ago. He grew up in the church of Christ and is pretty rooted in that faith, but he's also really open and interested in what we have to say. We were able to have a good discussion about the Restoration and he wants to find out more!
And then Angie, the lady that we brought to church last week committed to be baptized on Sept. 6th! Our lesson with her was FANTASTIC and we found a member that she connected with really well. She's also really receptive to the Spirit which helps a lot. Unfortunately she got sick so our lesson on Saturday didn't work out and she also wasn't able to come to church but we'll get her soon!
We gave a training at a STM in the OKC zone (one of the 2 zones we covered and my old zone when I was in Weatherford). It was about our commission as missionaries and I learned a lot and mostly it just motivated me to be better and keep working hard until the end of my mission. It is hard to stay focused sometimes, but the Lord is patient and gives me many opportunities to refocus. We get to give another training on Wednesday (this time for the Quail Creek zone) about personal conversion. Should be fun!
Pretty much life has been CRAZY lately. Between juggling our leadership responsibilities and our area and trying to use time and miles wisely it's been a great balancing act. We have a bunch of balls (representing people) that we're trying to keep in the air without letting any of them fall. It's a LOT of work and responsibility, and we honestly can't do it alone. That's where the members come in. We can give them a couple of the balls to work with, and as we get more and more members involved we can juggle more and more balls until we've baptized the world! Easy enough, right?
Our new ward mission leader, Bro. Cease, gave a super powerful talk about this on Sunday. He has a son on a mission, and he says that he always reminds his son to be the missionary that his mom thinks he is. One day his son gave it back and said, "Dad, make sure you're being the missionary that Heavenly Father wants you to be". I took both of those to heart. Am I really being the missionary that my mom thinks I am? More importantly, am I being the missionary that Heavenly Father wants me to be? When I'm held accountable will I be pleased with what I've done? What prevents me from being the best that I can be? Fear? Doubt? Weakness? Laziness? What can I do to better rely on the Lord to turn these weaknesses into strengths?
The church is true, the book is blue, and GOD LOVES YOU! And so do I! So just keep on trucking every last one of you and never be complacent where you are. Keep moving, keep improving, because the purpose of our lives is progressive sanctification.
~Hermana Holloway
1. Our trip to the zoo last P-day. I got to feed a giraffe!
2. Clouds. Oklahoma has the best clouds :)
3. Our "tree" growing in our "backyard"

I have no idea what I am doing!!!

This is her email from August 4th...a travel day for me followed by a significantly busy week.

Well this week was another jam-packed week of missionary fun! I'm lovin' city life a lot. There's a lot more people, much more cultural diversity than anywhere else in Oklahoma, and I think that it might be the first place that actually has decent Asian food! (that's still pending though. I haven't tried any yet... alls I know is that there's a "build your own stir-fry" place that I'm dying to try) I feel like I'm starting to get to know people, but Heavenly Father might just leave me here for 6 months so I can learn the area.
We are working with some pretty amazing people though. There's Amanda and Chance, and we taught them about the Doctrine of Christ on Tuesday. They were super excited to get baptized and go to church and we set baptismal dates for September 5th! Unfortunately two days later they texted us and said they already had Jesus in their hearts so they didn't need us anymore (that hurt) but right after they dropped us we had another amazing Doctrine of Christ lesson with Comesha (less-active) and Elijah (her non-member son). Elijah expressed a desire to learn more and be baptized, and his mother, who had never really acted like she even knew anything about the church before, started bearing a powerful and sincere testimony about baptism and the Priesthood. It was intense! So even though we lost 2 investigators, we were able to set a baptismal date with Elijah and he is really excited about it.
The we got to do service for Sis. Goelz, who is Mrs. Oklahoma 2012 and won her house in a game show. Pretty much she has an awesome life. You should google her. But she also has chronic tennis elbow in her dominant arm, which was making painting her closet pretty much impossible so we helped her out because she does a lot for us. She's also a health nut and is helping Sis. Adair and I eat as naturally as we can on our missions, and even gave me this hippie green veggie drink that I almost couldn't get down because it was so disgusting! It did make me feel good, though, which was the goal. You should be proud, mom :)
And then on Wednesday it rained pretty much all day. We had a meeting in the morning/afternoon then had an early dinner after, so we had the evening to do missionary work. It was still raining, but we had no miles so driving was not an option. So, like pioneer children, we walked and walked and walked. Soon the rain turned from a gentle shower to a flash flood. With faith (or foolishness) in every footstep we carried on, knowing that no unhallowed moisture could stop the work from progressing! In little time, however, we were so drenched that we looked like we had jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed and decided that nobody would want to let 2 wet people into their house anyway, so we began the long trudge home. By this time the water was a river that was higher than the curb and even began to form small rapids. I realized that we were ill-prepared to deal with such a storm, as we should have brought a small vessel or an air mattress to take full advantage of the situation and float home. Alas. I don't really know what the point of this story is... but it was a fun evening and taught me a lot about the importance of being forewarned about the weather. But that also requires technology, which we do not have.
Also my planner got wet and is now all wrinkly :(
I also went on my first exchange as an STL! It was super fun. Basically during the exchange I try to observe and help the sister in all phases of missionary work, help her set goals, and give a report to the mission president. I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing (both in the area and as an STL) but the best part is that I don't have to! I just need to be humble, teachable, and spiritually prepared to let God use me to bless others. I think it's the same with any calling in the church. Do you know enough to be a bishop or a Relief Society President or even a nursery leader? Of course not! That's why God calls the ordinary, unlearned, and weak to do His work. If He used those that "knew" everything about Him, then they would want to do their will not His. So if you ever feel like you're given a task that is above your abilities, that's exactly how you're supposed to feel! God keeps pushing us because He knows our potential. So humbly and faithfully accept the call, then spend a lot of time on your knees and be prepared to be an instrument.
I love you all! I hope you have a wonderful week and I know I will!
~Hermana Holloway