Monday, 30 January 2017

Teach Repentance; Baptize Converts


Another beautiful week in the California Long Beach Mission! Sister Greener and I were proselyting in an apartment complex thing that had a pool and there were people out there tanning and swimming... in January! It was funny but it was a beautiful day! Got up to 80 degrees, so that was nice! No more rain!

This week has been pretty eventful! We got some changes in the missionary schedule and also in our key indicators. The missionary broadcast in which this information was given was so powerful! I really loved and needed that reminder of our purpose as missionaries! It is so easy to get caught up in numbers. Thinking you haven't done anything just because you didn't technically teach as many lessons as you usually did; and yet you did much to bring people closer to Christ. I am so happy with these changes and I can already see a difference in the way Sister Greener and I go about this work- it really is about
 the people, not the numbers.

Also this week we found out a homeless person was living in the storage space in our car port... so, we got that taken care of... it was an adventure!

Something else I have come to realize is that sometimes people's agency is super frustrating! You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. That's up to them. As missionaries we try and we try, we do all we can to set up the appointments and call the members and arrange rides, and plan lessons, and bear testimony, and still people don't come through. It's a challenge but I know that every person is on their own timetable. God knows when people will come around, He knows every person in this area that will receive the Gospel and when. We just have to trust in that and work at their pace, teach according to their needs.

We did get to meet with one of our investigators who is progressing really well! His name is Kim and he is dating a member in the ward and he is just the best! He already has such a firm grasp on the Gospel- he just gets it. He knows this is the right path for him and he, and we, are excited for his baptism coming up in March. What I love most about lessons with Kim is that he is FULL of questions. I love it. We barely talk a lot of the time; he just asks questions, we answer, ask a question in return or read a scripture and he just launches into more soul-searching and testimony bearing and I just love it.

We also had our ward's annual chili cook off this week! It was super fun and Sister Greener and I got to be judges, so that was fun. There was also a silent auction for Girl's Camp going on and Sister Greener bid on some fudge, so she was pretty excited about that.

We also got to do some gardening for a lady named Christine- we potted some cactus and stuff and she let us take some home! :) It made me happy. We also had 2 members make my favourite dinner this week- so I loved that! All in all a great week!

Love you dearly!

Sister Holt

Monday, 23 January 2017

Who Says it Doesn't Rain in Southern California?!?!


This week has been pretty slow on the lesson side of things.... I think God is humbling us, which is probably good! But it has definitely been harder to get people to meet with us! We were able to meet with 2 young investigators of ours, Yojhann and Emily, and teach them about prayer. They have been meeting with missionaries since they were really little but have never been able to be baptized because of extenuating circumstances, so we continue to meet with them! They are only 13 and 15, so it can sometimes be hard to get them into what we are teaching them. Sister Greener and I came to realize that we needed to take a different approach to teaching them. We decided to have shorter, more concentrated lessons on one gospel topic at a time, instead of teaching a whole lesson where they could lose interest or get lost. We also wanted to make their lessons a special, sacred, spiritual experience, every time. We took extra time planning out their lesson plan and seeking inspiration from God as to what they needed, not what lesson they were missing on paper, but what they needed for their spiritual development. I've got to say this was probably the most spiritual lesson I have had the privilege of teaching on my mission. I know it was inspired and led by God, and I felt, maybe for the first time, that something clicked there! I am just so happy to be here and to be able to have experiences like that! Now we just have to apply that to every lesson we do! Sometimes we cut corners in life, but I am learning that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not something that we can be stingy with! They need it, corners and all!

On Tuesday, we went to go see a member that no one knew, and they had moved, so I guess that's why no one knew them. So we left a pamphlet with the new person and as we were walking back to our car, we met a guy named Robert! We taught him a little bit about our church, talking about the Apostles and it was good, we asked if we could see him again and he said yes! So we are going to try and see him tomorrow! Hopefully we won't bail...

I also had a member make me poutine!! Yay! It was a little cold, but still good :) I miss Canada... We also got lost in a maze of an apartment complex looking for a less-active member.... for like 20 mins. Yeah, it was a pretty good time...

We sadly had one of our dear investigators, who was even preparing for baptism, drop us :( It was very sad but we prayed to know what Heavenly Father wanted us to do and we felt that we should let her go. We left her with John 14:27 and our testimonies. I sincerely hope she will be able to find her way back to the path she was on when she is ready. So yeah, that was a sad day. But! We did also have a baptism that evening for Tristin, our 11 year-old investigator. It was a nice service, it was very sweet to see his Dad baptize him!

It was also suuuuper rainy, so we took some pictures! Like I'm talking the streets were flooded.

Yesterday we basically had a typhoon hit us. It was pretty rainy after church but, you know, we gotta work anyways! So we went out and visited a couple people. Then our appointment for 3:00 texts us and cancels because there are flash flood warnings. Well, you know, we keep working anyways haha So we're about to go see some backups and we get a call from a less-active member we visit pretty often and who was going to feed us that night. She calls us in a panic and says there are 2 inches of water in her house! So we asked if she wanted us to come over and she said, YES! So we debated whether or not to go home and change first, but we were already soaked so we went over in our dresses and tried to get some of the flooding that was going into her house from the backyard, into the storm drains. So we had like 10 people there sweeping and raking and doing whatever we could to move the water from the backyard, around the side of the house, and out to the street. Oh man my back hurts now but it was actually kinda fun! Even though I was in a skirt, freezing cold in torrential rain, barefoot, so I didn't ruin my shoes! Somehow, through all that, I was so happy, and so was the member! She texted us later and said that she has no idea how she wasn't crying and freaking out that whole time. Even in the rain, we were able to find sunshine, and put our shoulders to the wheel. 

The Church is true! The Book is blue!

Love, Sister Holt

Monday, 16 January 2017

Elder Jeffrey R Holland

Hello! This week has been pretty fantastic! Mostly because (yep you read it right) Elder Holland came to my mission!!!!! All 170 missionaries in the California Long Beach mission gather in Cerritos to hear him speak and it. Was. Awesome. Elder Hallstrom from the Seventy was also there as well as our area authority. I haven't felt the spirit like that maybe ever, definitely not for a long time!

In the meeting we were encouraged to ponder the things we are being taught and to let this experience be a life-changing one; let it affect how the rest of our mission and as our life plays out. I definitely intend to take that counsel to heart! I sincerely hope that the way I do, and think about, missionary work will never be the same; that I will be able to recommit myself, my loyalty, my obedience, my diligence, to the Lord! One of the speakers talked about how marines are completely loyal and that once you're a marine, you're always a marine. WE as missionaries are the same way! ONCE A MISSIONARY, ALWAYS A MISSIONARY! He also spoke of how a marine is 100% LOYAL. We must also be loyal to the Lord, our Mission President, and our companions, in that order. Another piece of insight that hit me was to "leave everything on the field." The reason this had an impact on me was because I have been told that time, and time again on my mission by 2 stake Presidents (including President Weckesser) and now an area authority... I guess I'd better listen, eh? I want so badly to be the missionary I know God sees that I have the potential to become! I pray that I will be able to continue to grow and progress and constantly strive to be strictly and exactly obedient to the standards that have been set for the representatives of Jesus Christ!

Elder Holland spoke to us about our own conversion. He told us that what the General Authorities are really worried about is us! Our testimonies and our progress within the church. I know that as I sacrifice this time, I will be strengthened and blessed to be able to endure well in the gospel after I go home, as long as I allow myself to be changed by the things I experience. We are supposed to be changed by our missions! I am so grateful for the short time I have been given to serve and prepare myself for the things that lay ahead of me.

Elder Holland was also really funny haha. He told us we were apostolic but he corrected himself and said, "Now I don't want you all to write home telling your folks that I've called you to the quorum of the 12 apostles... I'm a capital 'A' apostle, you're a little 'a' apostle!" Also when we were reading a story in the New Testament about Nicodemus coming to Christ and asking him about gospel things and Christ says, you must be born again to see the kingdom of God, and Nicodemus says, what the heck? born again? do I have to go back in my Mother’s womb and be born again like that??? HAHAHA Elder Holland said, and I quote, "THAT IS THE STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER READ IN RECORDED SCRIPTURE HISTORY." It was so funny!

Elder Holland did talk about the gap that sometimes occurs in missionary work between the missionary and the investigator, things like; ignorance, sin, pride, misinformation, etc. He instructed us that we have to go to where they are and bring them up! That is how we bridge that gap; not by insisting they come to where we are, but by making the journey with them. We were also instructed to make every single teaching opportunity a strong spiritual experience. A lot of times we think that we just have to fill our day, stay busy. We go into a less-active member's home or even an investigator, we chat, and then share a token scripture or power thought from one of the lessons and leave them with a half-hearted commitment we know we will not follow up on. I know I am guilty of this and I know that without the spirit and without an invitation to commit or in other words to change, or REPENT, no one can progress in their journey back to their Heavenly Father! I am so, so grateful for the time I have had to learn at the feet of an Apostle of the Lord. I know that he is a special witness of Jesus Christ and that he has been called by God, our actual Heavenly Father, and Creator.

The rest of my week was good. We had a lot of people cancel on us, which was frustrating at times, but we know we only have so much control over what happens in this work. All we can do is invite the spirit and invite, invite, invite the people we teach! We were supposed to have about 5 investigators at church this week... they all said they would come, we even offered to get them rides and yet… only one showed after Sacrament meeting and it wasn't even one we were expecting! That's okay though! We are not discouraged! We'll get them next week for sure!

We have also been having a hard time finding members who are willing to teach with us, especially since we don't really have any ward missionaries... so we decided to take it upon ourselves to find members to teach with us! We sent a sign-up sheet around Priesthood, Relief Society and even the Youth and Primary (for the leaders) to see who is available to teach with us! I really do hope we will be able to get more members teaching with us! I know that when members teach alongside missionaries, it strengthens the investigators’ testimonies  and creates a fellowship and a bridge between them and the Church that helps immensely with their conversion.

This week we also met with 2 of our investigators, William and Kim, and committed them both to baptism! It brings me an incredible amount of JOY whenever I hear that these children of our Heavenly Father are wanting to come closer Him! Now, it is our responsibility to help them progress toward that goal they have made in faith!

I love you lots!
The church is true!
Sister Holt

Sorry, no pics this week! I'm bad.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Work! Work! Work!


This week has been busy and awesome and I love it all :)

We got to visit with a lot of the usual people we meet with; less-active members that are working on growing their faith and testimony. We also got to meet with Jeffrey and his girlfriend Alina to talk about his baptism! We did some service at a museum and sorted some records, which was fun because I like organizing.

Saturday was absolutely CRAZY. We worked so hard we were EXHAUSTED by the end of the day. I have never been that tired on my mission. We started off street contacting and then we met a less active woman in the ward who has health issues. She's really sweet and we're going to meet with her again next week and she's bringing her friend who wants to learn more about the gospel!! Then we got to meet with Mirian, a youth who was baptized right before I got here. She invited two of her friends to learn more about the gospel so we got to teach them about the Restoration and they are interested in continuing the discussions!! Their names are Jenny and Isabela and they are very sweet. Next we taught Karie. She has decided to turn her life around this year, she wants to make a change. We read a chapter in The Book of Mormon about the gospel of Jesus Christ and asked her to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized and she said yes! We are so excited for her! After dinner we saw an investigator named William, he's like 13 and is interested in learning more about Christianity. We took Mirian with us (she's such a little missionary) so we had to walk because we couldn't take her in our car because she isn't 16... so that was fun! We taught him about the importance of The Book of Mormon and he said he would read and pray about it, to ask Heavenly Father if it is His word. I love how in this gospel we believe in finding out for ourselves. We don't expect anyone to just take our word for it, to just trust us. We ask you to trust in God! Ask him if these things are true and he will tell you! I can testify that this is true and that God answers us! Not always exactly when or how we think we should be answered, but He does answer.

After William's lesson we had to quickly walk Mirian home and then go to Jeff's baptism!! It was such a wonderful experience. I love Jeff so much and I'm sad he's moving to Colorado (yep, we lost another one) I got to give a talk about baptism and I think it went okay! I felt prompted to speak about how baptism is not the finish line, you're not done! It's the first step! Now, we endure. We continually find faith in Christ, repent, partake of the sacrament and nourish our testimonies! I always tell people that there has never been a person who fell away from the Church that was; reading their scriptures, praying, and attending Church. It just doesn’t happen. We need to do these things to keep us spiritually alive! CPR: church, pray, read.

By the end of the day, we realized we were super close to meeting the standard of excellence, so we panned the heck out of Sunday, giving up our lunch so that we could try and do that... we almost made it! Sacrament meeting was really awesome, Jeff was confirmed a member and he received the Holy Ghost, AND he got the priesthood! It was a good time.

Later on Sunday, we had a lesson with William again, so we walked over with Mirian so she could be there (did I mention it was a mile long walk so it took like half an hour?) We get there and William said that he couldn’t do the lesson right then... so we walked all the way back. While we were fasting. Man, did we get blisters.

Anyways, the Church is true! I love you muchly!

Love, Sister Holt

Monday, 2 January 2017

Happy New Year!


We got our transfer calls yesterday and.............................
I am staying in Beach ward with Sister Greener! We are very happy :)

This last week has been awesome :) One of our investigators, Destiny, got baptized on Wednesday!!! Yay! It was a sweet, small service and she has already moved to Rexburg with her husband and baby to attend BYUI. My favourite part was definitely when she was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and she received the Holy Ghost (we did it at the baptism since she was moving a couple days after.) The spirit was so, so strong! I could feel it rush into the room and envelope this new member of God's church. It was a very special moment and I feel blessed and privileged to have been able to witness it :)

We also got to meet with some investigators that have been eluding us for a few weeks again. It was really good to see them! One of them, Karie, we met with at the church because it was raining and we usually meet her in a park. I am so glad for the spirit that resides in our dedicated church buildings! It really helped Karie to feel of God's love and let the spirit bear testimony to her of the truths we were sharing.

Saturday was New Year’s Eve and we got to spend it (til 9pm of course) with a special member of our ward named Ruth. I love Ruth so much, it hurts me that she is moving in a few weeks. She is older and her health is rapidly declining so she is moving in with one of her sons about half an hour away, but she still wants to continue attending our ward. Even if she does, we won’t be able to visit her so much since she will be so far away :( She can’t really leave her apartment right now so we go see her and read the book of Mormon since she cannot attend church. I just can’t even express how much I love her!

A member gave us some sparkling grape juice for New Year’s Eve, so that was nice :) I woke up at midnight because of the sound of the fireworks, so I guess you could say that I basically celebrated New Year at midnight haha

Our ward has switched to 9 am church so... not a ton of people showed up.  It's also gonna be a lot harder to get investigators there... but I'm sure the Lord will provide a way! I'm starting to learn that what the angel told Zacharias in the New Testament is true : nothing is impossible for the Lord!

We also had a member make a dutch oven meal for us last night and it was sooo good! :) All in all a pretty good week!

Pictures to come later! Sorry! but hopefully late today... all the libraries are closed so we email at the family history centre so we get less time.... Love you!

Love, Sister Holt

Christmas pjs :)

a little video that arrived New Year's Day - a great start to the year :)