Monday, September 22, 2014

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.

If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness,neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one;wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, norcorruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. -2 Nephi 2:11
This theme has been jumping out at me through my scripture study this week as well as in real life. Here's some examples:
Angie is progressing SO WELL but she also is about to get kicked out of the place that she's staying at, which is sort of a blessing in disguise because she wouldn't be able to get baptized if she lived there.
April's family found out on facebook that Dylan is Mormon and they're really unhappy about it. BUT she's been reaching out to us more for support and answers to her questions.
We found that Angela, the other lady that went to the RS activity last week, has a husband who doesn't want her to meet with us, BUT this has increased her desire to learn more about the restored gospel.
Comesha is also facing significant challenges with her family BUT she is looking more to God for comfort and the ward is reaching out to her more because she's having these challenges.
We had 2 stressful exchanges this week BUT we have been able to get in contact with some people that haven't been seen in a while.
We didn't have any investigators at church BUT about 5 less-active members showed up unexpectedly, and one of them is showing some significant progress!
...and my computer logged off halfway through typing this but now I have a greater appreciation for Gmail's autosave feature!
So there has been a lot of opposition, BUT as Lehi points out, if we didn't have the bad we would not appreciate or even see the good. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING has its opposite. I'm sure that all y'all smarties out there have already figured this out, and intellectually I knew it, but I have never seen so many examples of it until this week. We NEED opposition to be able to be happy, of this I am thoroughly convinced.
This week I read the talk "The Quest for Joy" by Barbara Workman. It pretty much expresses all of the revelation that I have received about opposition this week:
Joy is an emotion of the spirit. It comes through righteous living. It is not a casual or shallow feeling, ever. If we equate fun and pleasure with happiness, we may think pain must always be equated with unhappiness. But that is not true. Joy is not a stranger to pain. We may not feel deeply enough to know joy unless our hearts have been hollowed out by sorrow. A heart may not be big enough to know real joy until it has been stretched and pulled by trials and hard things. In 2 Nephi 2:23 [2 Ne. 2:23] we find this phrase: “having no joy, for they knew no misery.” Our capacity to feel joy actually increases as we righteously endure our pain.
As missionaries go out to serve, they taste the same mixture of emotions almost every day. The deeper their joy in the message and the more intense their desire to share it, the greater their sorrow when it is rejected. Often when the scriptures talk about joy and sorrow, they are referring to missionary work. In Alma 28:8 we read, “And this is the account of Ammon and his brethren, their journeyings in the land of Nephi, their sufferings in the land, their sorrows, and their afflictions, and their incomprehensible joy.” These four terms often describe a mission: sufferings, sorrows, afflictions, and incomprehensible joy.
If a missionary has had a largely pain-free existence to this point, perhaps the experience of deep joy still lies ahead. One missionary who described premission life as being pretty easy told about teaching a discussion in which the whole family, especially the father, was very responsive. Afterward, as he and his companion pedaled their bicycles toward their apartment, he thought: “So this is what joy feels like. I guess I’ve never known until now.”
So yeah. That was my week. It was so wonderful. We went on 2 exchanges and taught some Spanish to the new Hermana (well at least I did).
If you're passing through some opposition right now just remember that there is always good that comes along with it :). Also, Jesus loves you.
I've been such a fail at sending pictures this week, but here's one from last week when Sis. Boulter and I crushed up one of our returning members cigarettes. That was fun.
Have a good week! I love you all!
~Hermana Holloway
PS: THERE'S A NEW MORMON MESSAGE! These things are the bomb!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When it Rains it Pours

ALOHA family and friends!
This week has been full of many many miracles, of course! :)
First of all, remember April? Well we ended up meeting with her Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. We taught the Doctrine of Christ and the word of wisdom because literally her only vice is that she drinks coffee. Or, I should say, she DID drink coffee because she hasn't been drinking it all week! Huzzah! We also invited her to come to the Relief Society social that we had on Thursday, and she came and loved it. She can't come to church until next month, but as soon as she comes 3 times I'm sure she'll get baptized. She's just so amazing.
Another random story that's related: so last Saturday we were in these apartments and we stopped and talked to this lady on the street. We asked if we could give her a card, and she took like 5 so she could put some in her office and give them to people. We also causally invited her to the RS activity and got her phone number. This happened in all of like 5 minutes. The day before the activity we called her and she said she'd be there, but we didn't think she would. To our great surprise, she actually came and loved it!
We also had a great lesson with Angie, and she's working towards October 11th and moving to her own apartment.
Then we went on exchanges with the OKC 3rd sisters, and I went with Sis. Boulter again. It was great to see how we've both progressed in the last 6 weeks. I definitely learned more from her than she did from me!
I've been learning a lot from the Spirit about patience. In Alma 17:11 it says:
Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient‍ in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples‍ unto them in me, and will make aninstrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.
I noticed that it points out that a prerequisite to being an instrument in God's hands (or in obtaining any righteous desire) is to be patient and long-suffering through trials or afflictions. By extension, every time we are going through some trial, we know that there is a lesson to be learned or a blessing to be earned. God does not want us to suffer needlessly. Everything we do on this earth refines and perfects us and gives us a portion of God's character. Submitting our will to His makes His will our own and His character our own. I'm sure I've expressed similar ideas in previous emails, but this is a point that has been reemphasized many times over the course of my mission. I think we are prone to forget God's lessons, and repetition is often the way we need to learn. :)
I love you all! I hope you have a miracle-filled week.
Jesus loves you!
~Hermana Holloway
Awesome quote:

A Better Way

This is Bethani's post from September 9, 2014:

Aloha family and friends!
This week was not the most fun week of my life. I felt a bit of the refiner's fire that we all must pass through in order to become all that the Lord wants us to become. But at the end of such experiences there are always many blessings that make up for the trials.
I'm sure many of you have heard, but last week my grandmother, Jan Danylchuck, passed away. Thankfully my amazing mother was able to prepare me for her passing via email, so when the call from my mission president came I was not caught entirely unawares. It was still a very sad moment, but life must go on. I missed the opportunity to gather with family to mourn her passing, but throughout the experience I received the confirmation that this is where I'm needed the most. The Lord wants me in Oklahoma, so I will stay until my time here has come to an end.
Transfers happened this week, so we got a few new sisters to work with. We got 2 greenies, and another sister that I actually served with in Choctaw. On Wednesday (which was actually transfer day) we went to a youth activity in the Edmond 1st ward. The elders there had all of the missionaries in the zone go there so we could do splits with all the youth. We all taught a lesson about a principle of the gospel to a member family and then we had some time for personal contacting. Our lesson put us in the same neighborhood of an inactive family that nobody had been able to contact for quite some time and we were actually able to get in! I had no idea what was going on because I'm not serving in Edmond, but Elder Marsh said it was an amazing miracle!
We've also been doing language study with Hermana Gubler, who's serving in Quail Creek North and has an English-speaking trainer. She's fresh out of the MTC which means her Spanish is still pretty basic. So I've been teaching her because I'm the closest Hermana. It gives us a good opportunity to minister to them on a regular basis as well.
Another miracle! We were driving by this less-active family's house on Saturday and we felt prompted to go visit them even though we hadn't planned for it. The mom, daughter, and grandma were all at home, and when we walked in the grandma started crying. At first I though it was because she was scared of us or something, but I soon figured out that she still had a great love for the church but had been able to go since her health had taken a turn for the worse. I think she had a stroke, because she couldn't walk and she was having trouble talking. Her family hadn't taken her because she was in such bad shape and I don't think they understood how badly she wanted to go. But when we invited them to come, she started crying again. Her daughter asked "do you feel the Spirit mom?" She nodded. "does that mean you want to go to church?" VERY emphatic nodding. So they came! I hope the way I just described it paints a good picture, because it was a very sweet moment.
One final miracle. There's a member of one of the Edmond wards who's dating a nonmember. Nonmember wants to learn about the gospel. She lives in our area :). We start teaching her. She wants to have a lesson 3 days in a row and soaks up the gospel like a thirsty sponge. She even wants to come to a Relief Society activity WITHOUT KNOWING ANYBODY. She's seriously the most golden investigator of my mission! It's amazing to see how her heart was prepared and that everything lined up perfectly for her to accept the gospel and that she can recognize truth when she sees it. God is SO GOOD!
So my title was inspired by a song that the one and only Trevor Holloway wrote. It talks about how we all have trials in life, but how following the light of the Savior is the better way to live. I'm grateful for that knowledge. I'm grateful that I know that all of my trials all have purpose and that Jesus Christ knows what I'm going through and loves me enough to mold me and shape me and refine me. It's sometimes a very painful process, but if we choose to let it bring us closer to the Savior then it was all worth it.
I love you all! the church is true, the Book is blue, and Jesus loves you!
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Holloway


This is Bethani's post from September 2, 2014

So pretty much this week can be summed up in a statement made by Pres. W at our LTM (Leadership Training Meeting) this Thursday. He said that as leaders our priorities are first, to our companion; second, to the sisters; and third, to our investigators. As a companionship we're doing great, but we focused a lot more on our sisters than on our investigators this week. As a result our area suffered a little, but God will take care of it and make up what we could not do.
But I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit. Last Monday we pretty much had an extended P-day, because a member in one of the wards here bought baseball tickets to go see the OKC Redhawks for everyone in our stake and Pres. W gave us permission to go! It was super fun and there were quite a few missionaries there.
The next morning, though, we had to be up bright and early to go on exchanges with the Spanish sisters. I went to Spanishland and Sis. Adair stayed in Englishland and we both had a blast. It was just what my soul needed! Then all of our appointments cancelled and I was reminded about some of the good things about English :). 
On Wednesday we had a mini-exchange because Sis. Adair had never finished Sis. Stewart's exchange report, so Sis. Adair went with Sis. Stewart and Sis. Boulter and I went fishing (AKA knocking doors). None of the fish were biting, but we had a good time. Then that evening we had a lesson with Paula, who is our amazing recent convert. She really just teaches us every time.
Thursday was all taken up by the LTM, which was really good, but just a tad long for my attention span. After we had a lesson with Angie, who is still doing amazing. The only thing that we're worried about is that she doesn't understand that being baptized in this church is different from the other churches and just the overall importance. She's excited and has a strong desire, but her excitement needs to be tempered a little bit so that she knows what a big deal it is. So she was supposed to get baptized this Saturday, but we've moved her date to October 11th to give her more time to really and truly prepare.
And then the member that came teaching with us surprise fed us Vietnamese food :). Live is good!
Friday was another day of exchanges... this time in Weatherford!!! It was so happy. I got to spend a whole day and a half there. We had a lesson with Cody (who's still holding strong!), then we had a ward party (all the members were there :) ), and we had Arney dinner! And no, I didn't plan any of that, it just sort of happened that way. It was a tender mercy for sure. And other missionary work happened too. It was kind of a cool experience too because while I was there I got a confirmation that my time there had passed and I'm not supposed to be in Weatherford anymore. That was definitely a blessing because I had felt a little robbed when I first got transferred. I know that the Lord is using me for what He needs me, though, not necessarily what I want.
Sunday was transfer calls again, and Sis. Adair and I are staying here and together. We'll be working with mostly the same sisters too because there weren't many changes in general. This transfer will also be Sis. Adair's last!
And then yesterday for P-Day instead of emailing we went shopping in some Okie stores. I got a SWEET Oklahoma shirt (there should be a picture attached), as well as 2 "Jesus shirts" that you really don't find outside of the Bible belt. One has a taco on it and says "Wanna taco bout Jesus? Lettuce pray" and the other one has John 3:16. I love how much Okies love Jesus!!
Then after that we played basketball for 2 hours. It was glorious.
Then Paula took us out to dinner at Olive Garden and we had a lesson! It was such a great day!
I hope y'all have a great week! I love you!
~Hermana Holloway