Monday, March 30, 2015

Hasta ver Oklahoma! and 27 things I've learned from my mission


Wow. Life is just crazy, I'll tell you what! 18 months ago this Wednesday I stepped off a plane in Oklahoma City, having absolutely no knowledge about what it meant to be a missionary or about this state called Oklahoma, which I didn't think was very well-populated at all. Now my heart is full of gratitude for the experience that I've had here. It has been rich and diverse and more fulfilling than I ever imagined. 

I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR MY MISSION. It has changed my life, but more than that it has taught me HOW to BECOME. And I think that's lesson 1. We are always becoming SOMETHING, but my mission taught me that I have COMPLETE control over WHO I become. I've learned to act, not to be acted upon.

I've learned to rely on the Spirit and I've learned what it feels like to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

I've learned that time is a precious thing and how we uses it reflects how precious we consider this life to be.

I've learned how to study and gain revelation from the scriptures.

I've learned how to endure, but I bet that will probably be tested later :).

I've learned how to love others, even if you don't like them.

I've learned how to strengthen my testimony through adversity.

I've learned who God and Jesus Christ are to ME. Not that they're just my Father and my Savior, but I know who they are to ME and the individual relationship I have with them.

I've learned to rely on prayer.

I've learned to rely on the Priesthood. Priesthood keys are real.

I've learned that there is such thing as having too many animals.

I've learned how do drive on a dirt road in a car that was not designed for it.

I've learned that becoming complacent in your testimony is a dangerous place to be. We must ALWAYS keep progressing. Satan gets all the fence sitters.

I've learned how to apply the Atonement of Christ.

I've learned that I don't need to be perfect, but that Heavenly Father is pleased with my SLOW but STEADY progress.

I've learned the people are not what they seem. You really don't know a person until you invest time into getting to know them.

I've learned that sometimes the best service you can give to someone is to listen to them Okie-talk and eat their food. 

I've learned that the gospel and the church truly are the same no matter where you go.

I've learned the power of a simple, sincere testimony.

I've learned how to talk to strangers. Still not my favorite activity but I can do it.

I've learned to love myself. It doesn't matter what other people think, I'm happy with myself the way I am because who I am is who God wants me to be.

I've learned that fried food is indeed delicious, but it does make you gain excessive pounds. 

I've learned that everyone has hopes and dreams that are just as important to them as mine are to me.

I've learned that I will never stop being a missionary.

I've learned that everyone desires to serve God, and that all churches have wonderful truths. We can all learn something from one another.

I've learned that my mission is both a culmination of my first 19 years of life as well as a step in my eternity. I've learned far more than I've accomplished.

And finally, I've learned that there are no coincidences. God always places us WHERE He needs us WHEN He needs us there. Sometimes our influence is not always easily recognizable to ourselves, but it means a lot to the lives we were meant to touch.

Those aren't all the lessons I've learned, of course, but there a good few. I can't wait to go home and apply what I've learned, and I can't wait to reconnect with the people and places I've left behind. My mission life is almost over, and it feels a lot like this scripture describes:

And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream.

It really has passed like a dream, but it's been the best 18 months of my life.

See you on Thursday.

Love you all.
God lives

The church is true. 

If you don't know it yet, read the Book of Mormon. There's is so much in there that you are missing out on.

Para siempre Dios este con Vos!!


Hermana Holloway 

Hiding from the 'nader this week.

Did you know that chicken fried steak is the official food of Oklahoma or something like that?

My very own funeral. The guns are a long story... Basically it's what I get for being in an all-elder district.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Penultimate Epistle and BECAUSE HE LIVES!!


So time flies right? Can you believe that after today I only have 1 more p-day? Some days it feels like I've been in Oklahoma since the dawn of time and other times it feels like I just got here yesterday. It's even weirder to think that this is the longest I've ever gone without crossing any state lines. But I digress.

This week was another one of those roller coaster weeks. I think one of the hardest things is it's been really cloudy and drizzly all week and it's been making me SO TIRED. It's hard to be a missionary when you're tired. Well, I suppose it's really hard to be human when you're tired, but missionary work becomes a lot less fun when the pervading emotion is exhaustion. Luckily the weather started clearing this weekend and the week ended up being amazing! Here are some of the miracles:

MIRACLE #1: We had a really amazing spiritual experience with Paula on Saturday. We'd been trying to help her to have a good experience with the Book of Mormon but we've been at a loss. So we had a good prayer before we went into her house and as we were talking the Spirit prompted us to invite her to read the Book of Mormon along with the Bible when she's seeking answers from God. We testified that she would receive the same answer from both books and that this would help her to know that the Book of Mormon is true. The Spirit was strong in the room and we were all edified together. She is just so amazing and I know that she can really use the truth that the Book of Mormon has!

MIRACLE #2: We went out yesterday evening and checked up on one of our potentials named Ed. While we were there we met this older lady named Shelby who knows some good Mormon people and wants us to come back with a large print so she can read the Book of Mormon too! On our way out of the trailer park, we ran into Gabe, the guy that we talked to in the snow a couple weeks ago. He was hanging out with a couple buddies and they were all really willing to listen and read and we're going to go back next week to teach them more!

MIRACLE #3: We had 2 great exchanges this week that finished off this transfer's round of exchanges and because of that we got to go on some road trips to Seminole! It was a party.

MIRACLE #4: The elders had a baptism this week that was kind of last-minute but still very well attended. The ward is really catching the fire of missionary work and the confirmation brought such a special spirit to the Sacrament meeting. I was so happy for the elders and the young man that got baptized.

In other news, the church is coming out with an Easter initiative, similar to He is the Gift, that will come out on March 28th, so this Saturday. Unlike He is the Gift, though, it will run all the way until the next Christmas initiative. They haven't released the video online yet, but we have it and it's AMAZING!! Everyone should go to and type in their email to get updates, because it's going to be amazing! I love how it focuses mostly on the resurrection of Christ and what He continues to do for us as well as what He did for us. Yes His death on the cross is one of the most important events in history, but He continues to offer divine aid on the daily. As Moroni says:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

That is a promise that applies yesterday, today, and forever.

I LOVE YOU ALL!! Have fantastic weeks, ok?

~Hermana Holloway 


1. One of the sisters I went on exchanges with wants to open her own salon when she goes home, so exchanges with her was like going to the salon. She did my nails, waxed my eyebrows, and did my makeup. It was fun!
2. Last p-day we played volleyball in Newcastle with the district

I held my first baby duck!!!


So that title was mostly because I couldn't think of anything better, but there also is something glorious about living in the boonies of Oklahoma and knowing people that have cute things like baby ducks that you can play with. I LOVE OKLAHOMA!!!

Well here's a blow-by-blow of my week:

MONDAY: we went to Pauls Valley!!! If you don't know where that is, that's ok because it's pretty small. They just have a branch out there and their chapel doesn't even have pews. We went for the Pauls Valley zone p-day and STM. For p-day we played flickerball in the rain (a cross between football, basketball, and ultimate frisbee) and the STM was really great as well!

TUESDAY: I was on exchanges in Ada with Sister Drinkall, who is an amazing sister and I learned a lot from her. Ada is also a tiny town and they just became a ward, but the missionary work is doing well there. We got to do service in a boot and saddle shop for this guy named Hugh (who really wasn't a whole lot like Hugh Taylor), we knocked into a sweet old lady whose brother and sister-in-law were LDS (I'm sure they were leading us there on the other side of the veil), and we taught Book of Mormon class and then the bishop took us out for ice cream! We didn't get home until about 10:45, but it was worth it.

WEDNESDAY: We had a lesson with Stephanie where we kind of went over the Plan of Salvation again and answered some questions. She is getting so close! Then we went over to the elder's place because elder Bishop had been really sick so we brought him some ginger ale and crackers and stuff. Then we weekly planned, had some dinner, and had a lesson with Paula!

THURSDAY: We had another meeting today!! It was an LTM (leadership training meeting), and it included all of the district and zone leaders and STLs. It was really good, and pretty focused on ministering to the one when it comes to leadership. We spent the night in some pretty classy apartments in Norman that are still in our area. We had dinner there and spent the rest of the time hunting for less-actives. The weather was really nice so it was good and relaxing. 

FRIDAY: Tiffany Stokes was in town and came to early morning sports!! It was so good to see her. After a very inspiring district meeting about OYMing, Sis. Stewart and I went on exchanges. We had a lesson with Joseph and set a baptismal date for March 28! He wants to get baptized before I go home, but we'll see because he didn't go to church this weekend... He's pretty pumped about it, though. We had dinner and a lesson with the Borchers. None of the kids were there, but it was good to see Lynne and Kim. They're just fabulous :).

SATURDAY: We had a lesson with a new couple, Josh and Jacklyn. Josh had referred himself to because he wanted a Book of Mormon and he didn't realize that people came with it. So we taught them a bit about the Restoration and invited them to read and pray. They didn't want to set a return appointment, so we'll see how far it goes. They felt the Spirit for sure. 

SUNDAY: The best part of today was the AMAZING FINDING MIRACLE we had! So we have this less-active family, the DeHavens, that just moved from the boonies to a trailer park right next to our apartment. We went to try and visit them, but they weren't home. While we were walking out, we started talking to these guys that were standing outside. Turns out that one of them, Kevin, used to be the DeHaven's neighbor when they all lived in Bakersfield and he'd already been taught a lot by the missionaries back then. Well now he and the DeHavens are neighbors again and Sis. DeHaven has already been working on him. Now we know where he lives, so he's pretty much baptized :).

Anyways, this week was great! I love being a missionary!! I hope you all had a great week and that you're seeing miracles and loving life. Life is supposed to be fun and joyful, so take advantage of that :).


Sister Holloway

PS Scripture of the week:

And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!

1. The baby duck!!
2. One of our member's houses way out in the country (yes, we are standing on the roof. Sort of)
3. After p-day in the rain. It was fun!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Museums and parties and road trips


I promise we also did missionary work this week... in between the museums and parties and road trips. So here's what happened:

Well this was really just a p-day thing. We went to the natural history museum that's on the OU campus and kind of were educated but mostly took funny pictures, like the one attached to this email. The district out here is one of my favorites. Everyone is hilarious! We call ourselves the black sheep, and even though there's about 15-30 miles between each companionship, we're still super close and have a blast when we're together.

Sister Boulter's birthday was this week! So while on exchanges last week I called the elders and told them that I wanted to make her birthday really special but also a surprise. They have much more creative minds than I, and they came up with a zone surprise party during district lunch. It was so much fun! We ate food, had cake and ice cream, and busted a pinata. And Sis. B had NO idea. My job was to stall so they could get everything set up so she'd be surprised, and luckily she was!

We also had MLC this week, which was another kind of party. More like a spiritual party. And because it's my last one, they made me bear my testimony at the end. (well, I guess I got to bear it) I'm just so grateful for all of the missionary skills that I've gained and the ability to follow the Savior that I've obtained. I don't think I'd have that without my mission.

We went to the temple this week! Anel, a girl from the Spanish branch, invited me to her endowment and I got permission to go! We went on the special Spanish Saturday, which means that everything was in Spanish. That made it kind of difficult, but the Spirit is universal. And it was just so happy to be with the branch members. Even though I haven't been there in over a year, they're still my family.

We also went to Lawton, OK for a baptism for Sister Boulter! It was about 90 miles each way, but it was a way fun road trip.

Between all of that and and exchange in Spanishland, it seems like I hardly got to work in my own area, but we had some lessons with the Borchers and Joseph and Paula. Hayden and Joseph are on the brink of setting baptismal dates, but they've just got a couple of concerns that they need to take care of. And Paula ran into some anti material but luckily she came straight to us and we were able to help her to see that it's not true. If you want to research something about the church, don't go to Google! Go to an official church website.

And because church was cancelled last week we had fast Sunday this week. One sister got up and said something to the effect of "we know what we need to do. We just need to do it NOW." And that's how I've been feeling lately. I know what I need to do, I just need to do it!

Love you all! Thanks for your love and support!!

~Hermana Holloway

1. with the district at the museum
2. The surprise party

Snowed in


I was really racking my brains to think of a witty way to start this email, but I have absolutely NOTHING. So just pretend my greeting was a lot more witty than it usually is :).

This week has been pretty crazy! The weather has especially been crazy, and people's reactions to the weather has been the craziest! If it ever snows in Oklahoma, cars get grounded, people refuse to set foot outside, and church gets cancelled until it all melts. And with no plows and no salt that usually takes a little while. So let's just say that this Chicago girl was less than pleased with people's reactions and Heavenly Father has been teaching me a lot of patience lately. It's funny how He always does that right when I think I've got it down. :)

But other than that this week really was great. I went to the dentist again, we searched for some more service opportunities in the community, we had some lessons with our investigators, and we had some good exchanges with our sisters and even found a pretty cool man in the snow that wanted a Book of Mormon! We gave him one of course.

And speaking of the Book of Mormon, and zone conference this week my mission president based one of his trainings off of this talk by President Benson and committed us all to carry a Book of Mormon in our hands wherever we go and track how many we give away. I haven't got into the habit yet, but hopefully it will help some of the finding problems we are having! I'm really excited to see how it goes!

Anyways, I think that those are the most exciting things going on right now. Love you all and have a great week!

Sister Holloway

PS: Sorry for all of you that have sent me personal emails or letters that I have not yet responded to. It's not that I don't love you, it's just that our car broke so my email time was reduced by a substantial amount. I'll make an extra special effort next week!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Many are cold, but few are frozen


Well, just another week in the life of this Okie missionary! We had transfers, of course, and I bid farewell to Sis. Stokes and greeted Sis. Boulter! It was actually kind of a sad moment, because a lot of the missionaries that went home were good friends of mine and as they were all driving away in the big white van we sang "God be With You til We Meet Again". It was kind of hard to not cry!

But the work must move forward, right? Sis. Boulter and I are really focusing a lot on finding, as well as taking care of the people we have. Here are some of the main ones:

THE BORCHERS: Trey just got baptized, but his twin brother, Hayden did not. We're trying to help Hayden understand the doctrine and feel the Spirit so that he can make the same decision as well. There's a lot of patience in the Lord's timing involved there, but the whole family is ultimately progressing towards the temple!

PAULA: She's our investigator that is extremely well-versed in the Bible and has a hard time accepting the Book of Mormon. However, she has enough faith to read and pray about it and I know that God will give her the answer she needs, in His own way and in His own timing.

STEPHANIE: Stephanie's brother got baptized about 2 years ago and is now on a mission. She has been reading the Book of Mormon with us and she really loves what it teaches. I can tell that her faith in Christ grows as she reads it!

JOSEPH: He's our miracle find from a couple weeks ago. He came to church this past Sunday and really loved it and loved the Spirit. He has a great relationship with God and is trying to make some changes right now so he can continue to grow closer to his Father and do His will. He's just amazing and SO prepared!

Those are some of the main people we're working with. Heavenly Father has blessed us with a lot of people that are prepared for the Gospel, and I'm so grateful for that. And even though winter has finally come and the Oklahoma wind seems to chill to the bone, we're excited for the upcoming transfer! LIFE IS GOOD!!

This Sunday every single lesson was about prayer. In Relief Society we read from this talk by Tad R. Callister, and I particularly loved this quote:

As parents, we can teach our children to pray for things of eternal consequence—to pray for the strength to be morally clean in a very challenging world, to be obedient, and to have the courage to stand for the right.
No doubt most of our youth have their evening prayers, but perhaps many of them struggle with the habit of personal morning prayer. As parents, as their prime gospel teachers, we can correct this. Which parent in Book of Mormon times would have let their sons march out to the front of battle without a breastplate and shield and sword to protect them against the potentially mortal blows of the enemy? But how many of us let our children march out the front door each morning to the most dangerous of all battlefields, to face Satan and his myriad of temptations, without their spiritual breastplate and shield and sword that come from the protective power of prayer? The Lord said, “Pray always, … that you may conquer Satan” (D&C 10:5). As parents, we can help instill within our children the habit and power of morning prayer.
This reminded me of my seminary years, and every morning before we left the house at 5:50 my parents would make me and Trevor (when he started seminary) pause and say a prayer with them. At the time I honestly sometimes tried to see if we could make it out the door before they came down the stairs so we wouldn't have to say a prayer, but looking back I'm grateful that they loved us enough to give us the protection of family prayer before we went out into the world. It's such a simple thing that has a profound impact.

I love you all! Take care and have a week full of milagros!

~Hermana Bethani Holloway