Monday, 27 March 2017

O Canada!

Hello all!

Another amazing week in the California Long Beach mission! The sun is starting to come out again, it was hiding for a little bit... I am seriously just so happy here. Since my 6 month mark I've had secret anxiety about leaving this place and taking off my nametag... I never want it to happen so I'm just going to pretend it won't for now!

Last Monday was a pretty good time! We had a district activity for Sister Allen's birthday (one of my stls). We went to a member’s house and made fried chicken with Elder Jones, played Mexican train, and played pingpong! After we were done that we went... ICE SKATING! It was awesome. I loved it. Later that evening we had stake FHE for investigators and less-active members. Maria, Karie, Gabe, and Mirian came! It was a great lesson given by our stake president, President Johnson, about prophets! I am so thankful for the leaders in our church that have been divinely called to help us learn and progress in the Gospel! Before we were going to head over there, we stopped by a potential investigator we had contacted the day before. His name is Steve, and he is really awesome. We started talking to him about his religious views, his relationship with God. I kid you not, as we are taking to him, he starts saying things like," I've done some research and it just seems to me like the Bible has been taken apart, translated and changed so many times by men, that it just can't be entirely correct," and "it seems like a little while after Christ died, God's word wasn't really on the earth anymore, there wasn't anyone to guide the people. You can see that just by looking at history..." My jaw almost dropped. He was basically teaching us the Restoration! It was so amazing to see someone God was preparing to receive His word.

It's funny how the more people you talk to, the more easily you can discern, in just a quick conversation, who is ready and who is not. We are to "find those that will receive [us]." Just yesterday, Sister Sherksnas and I had the opportunity to stop by some former investigators and potential investigators. We stopped by a man named Jerry, within 3 minutes Sister Sherksnas and I both had the spirit witness to us to bear our testimonies and move on. We have a very short time to serve. 18 months is a blink of the eye in eternity. We have started really prioritizing who we are spending that short amount of time with so we can be the most effective at fulfilling our purpose of "teaching repentance and baptizing converts."

We have been able to keep ourselves pretty busy this week, as usual! Beach ward is the Promised Land, I'm telling you. There is so much potential here, so many people being prepared! I am convinced though, that any area can be like that. You simply need to develop the FAITH to find those people :)

We also got to meet with a young girl named Megan that attends our ward. She is not a baptized member, her father won't let her be baptized. She is really sweet and we are going to start meeting with her so that when she turns 18 and is able to be baptized, the decision will be easy.

We also got to discuss getting some ward missionaries in ward cor and ward counsel! Yay! Oh yeah, we have no ward missionaries, it's a rough time.... but we make it work!

I was so happy to be able to watch the General Women's meeting this Saturday! Unfortunately, none of our investigators could attend, we got really close with Alisa, the YW president even went to go get her... but her dad wouldn't let her go. It was the quickest hour and 15 minutes of my life! It's crazy how fast time flies now... a day feels like 3 hours! Gotta make the most of it....

Sunday morning only Mandy came to church... Alisa is still struggling with her dad to let her attend our church... he's a born again Baptist so... it's hard. Gabe came to church though, of course! Even though his sister struggles sometimes, he gets up and gets himself to church! He's even stopped dressing like a gangster lol we got him a dress shirt and some ties last week, thanks to Brother Fitzpatrick and Elder Jones.

The church is true!

Sister Holt

Elder Neal, Sister Skerksnas, Elder Mather, Sister Holt, Elder Jones, Sister Webb, Elder Oniki, Sister Allen, Elder Stacy.

Sister Allen joined Sister Sherksnas ans Sister Holt for the day (no idea why the hood :))

Gabriel taught Sister Sherksnas and Sister Holt how to tie a tie.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Gabriel's Baptism


As always, Sister Sherksnas and I have had a very busy, productive week! Time is literally FLYING by, I feel like every other day is weekly planning!

This week we have been getting Gabriel ready for his baptism!! He has been "jumping for joy," all week long, waiting for his day. When Saturday evening finally did come, of course, Satan had to try one last intervention. We had to do the baptism in a different stake because ours was occupied for a stake musical. So we had asked the Sisters in that building how to get into the building. All they gave me were codes... so we got to the building an hour before the baptism and of course all the codes they gave us were wrong aaaaaand we needed keys to get into the font. So long story short, by the time we get the font open and start filling it, it's 5:30... the baptism is in half an hour and it takes an hour and a half to fill the font! God is a God of miracles though. We cranked the water, meaning we had to use cold water mostly. Within 25 minutes, the font was full and the water was even quite warm. It was definitely in God's plan that Gabriel would be baptized! Nothing can frustrate Heavenly Father's plans!

We also had the chance to set a baptismal date with a young woman we are teaching named Alisa. She has so many questions and she is searching for truth. Well if someone is looking for truth, this is where to find it! She has some opposition from her family, they are strong Baptists, but she wants to find out for herself if this is what God wants her to do. She is very sweet and has been through a lot in her short life. We are excited to be a part of her progression back to Heavenly Father.

On Wednesday we went to an appointment we had set up the week before when stopping in on a potential. His name is Kuka, he is Samoan, and he has a strong belief in God. We brought a Samoan lady from our ward and they got along really well! He said he was even happier to see us because we brought Sister Fanoga with us! We talked a little bit about how truths that have been lost are now restored to the Earth. We told him how families can be together forever, that "til' death do we part" does not have to exist. He said that would be amazing if it were possible and he liked our theory. We told him it was 100% possible. Understandably, he was very intrigued by that idea! I am excited to see him again this Wednesday!

We also got to go on exchanges this week! It was a lot of fun, I really do love exchanges. This time I was with Sister Allen, she is the best. I really learned from her just to be happy! No matter what may be frustrating you, no matter how tired you may be, you can still wear a smile on your face and have an optimistic outlook. I want to be that and have that. We got to do quite a bit of teaching as well as pick up three new investigators in the Sister Training Leader's area! It really was a day of miracles.

Saturday was a very busy day! We got to meet with an investigator that hadn't met with us in a long while, she had kinda dropped us... Her name is Sheila and she has 2 young kids. Most of our lessons, she has seemed distracted and kinda like she didn't quite 'get it'. This time we were able to help her connect to our message more fully through asking inspired questions and really listening to the spirit, trying to discern her needs and teach accordingly. This was another wonderful opportunity to talk about eternal families. Those really are my favorite moments when teaching; being able to tell someone they don't need to say goodbye to the ones they love.

And then later that evening was Gabe's baptism, so it was kinda hectic haha.

Yesterday at church, we had 2 of our investigators come to church, Mandy and Kerry. They are the Sisters who have baptismal dates. They are so sweet and are starting to actually read the Book of Mormon on their own! Kerry said she even reads the restoration pamphlet to her younger sister before bed! It is a miracle to see this change because Christian religion, praying, and scripture study have not been a part of their lives until now. I love seeing the change the gospel brings in people's lives!

Gabriel was also confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday, that was a really great experience. I wrote his blessing out for him from the quick notes I took and remembered. Gabe talks a lot about 'his path' and it talked about it too! I thought that was cool. Also when he sat down next to me again the first thing he said was, “what's next?” I love it! The temple is his goal and he wants to get there ASAP. 

After church, we went by to try some potentials, none of them were home, but we did get to meet two men as we were walking down the street to our car! Heavenly Father is funny sometimes. There was absolutely no parking where we were going so we had to park all the way down the street. Well it just so happened to be that the men we found were right by our car! So that was a miracle. We will see them this week.

The church is true!


Sister Holt

Gabriel's Baptism!

Having fun with the district on P-day

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Sunshine in my soul today... and every day.


This week was pretty flip-floppy; but in a good way!
Things started out looking pretty sketchy for a few of our investigators, but we kept the faith, knowing that God prepares a way for those who are faithful, and things turned out really well this week!

We got to see lots of Gabriel again- he's legit the best. He's getting baptized this Saturday!! Haha he told me that I could tell everyone that I helped convert a Mexican gangster. He also used to be a tattoo artist and he did my name all fancy for me :) He's really progressing super well and I am so happy for him. The highlight of my week was probably being able to bear testimony to both Karie and Gabriel about eternal families. Nothing in the whole world beats telling someone that they can be with those that they love literally forever. I am so blessed to be able to have this knowledge in my life. Because of Christ, everything that is unfair about life can be made right. All losses can and will be recovered, and death has no sting!  I will never be able to repay my Redeemer for His sacrifice that carries me day by day.

We have had a hard time meeting with some of our investigators that are having a hard time progressing... and that's probably why they're having a hard time.... if only they could see that! However, we did have the chance to meet with our investigators with baptismal dates quite a bit! I love seeing their hunger to obtain more of God's word! They want to meet with us as often as they can, it's definitely keeping us busy!

We also had the opportunity to have Zone Conference this past week and, as always, it was crazy inspiring! We talked a pretty good deal about the priesthood POWER. We, as missionaries, are the ONLY ones in our area who have been given the power and calling to preach the gospel. That's a great responsibility! I want so badly for people to understand that power and authority! Sister Sherksnas and I are going to work on how we can better help people understand that by taking time in our personal study to better familiarize ourselves with it, and in companionship study to practice teaching our lessons with a focus on the priesthood. Everything comes together so easily when you recognize the need for authority from God, I know I wouldn't want to do anything he didn't want me to... definitely not worth that wrath that would come later haha.

After zone conference, we also got to set a baptismal date with 2 young investigators of ours names
d Mandy and Kerry! They are sisters and Mandy is 12 and Kerry is 10. They are very sweet and their Mom is a member, but not their step dad... so it's been hard to meet with them often. I really felt the spirit in this lesson we had with them and I finally recognized their understanding! Each person is unique and different, and so we have to teach at their pace. I was missing the mark on that one for a while. In this lesson, it finally all came together :) I forget who said it, but someone of importance in the church said, you have to teach not so plainly that people will just understand, but so that they cannot misunderstand. I love that and it is so true!

We have been busy getting Karie and Gabriel ready for their baptisms! Karie will be baptized on the 25th, and Gabriel on the 18th! We have been planning the speakers, and the songs, and it's so fun. I love it!

We actually got to attend a baptism with Karie on Saturday, it was so good to feel the spirit there, and I can see that Karie is really getting excited for her baptism! Afterwards, we watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with her. The spirit was so strong in testifying of the divine call Joseph had as a Prophet of God. He is another man that I will never be able to thank enough for all that he did for me, and for the rest of God's children. I know without a shadow of a doubt that he was exactly as he said he was; a prophet, seer, and revelator.

Later that day, we also got to meet with Jenny, and we picked her up as a new investigator! She is a friend of one of our recent converts, Mirian. She is 13 and very nice. She has a belief in God and wants to follow him. She agreed to work towards a baptismal date in April! We are so happy for her, and happy to be a part pf her journey back to her Heavenly Father!

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak in church with Sister Sherknas and our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Stoughton. It was a 'missionary Sunday', and I think it went really well! I spoke about developing the faith to find, and how we need to go out and find those people that Heavenly Father is preparing in our areas. I have a testimony that God is preparing people in every country, in every city, on every street. We need to invite! The invitation we extend may not be the one that gets them into the waters of baptism, but it will be a stepping stone on their path. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said when he came and spoke to us; we do not have the right to decide who is ready and who is not, we simply invite everyone.

I love this work and I love this Gospel, and the truths in unfolds to me every single day!
The church is true!

Sister Holt

All Dressed in California!
Gabriel's artwork
lots of cops - as per usual - on Beach Blvd.

Beautiful SoCal sunset

lightsaber. nufsaid.

Monday, 6 March 2017

God Is So Good!


This week has been another major blessing from the Lord! I love every single minute that I have to serve Him and labour in His vineyard.

Last Monday, we got to see one of our investigators with a baptismal date, Kim, and talk to him about our beloved prophet and the importance of following him. Kim really is so knowledgeable already about the Gospel. Whenever we teach him he always reads whatever material we give him the time before in preparation for lesson so he basically teaches us when we go over! It's really refreshing to teach someone who just GETS it, and he gets it because he has been prepared. His heart has been softened over a period of 65 years to receive this message! That's something I have definitely been thinking about lately; the difference between people who have been prepared, and those who aren't ready. Sometimes, no matter what we do as missionaries, no matter how well we teach and extend commitments and plan and testify, people will still not get the message, for now. 

We also got to go to new missionary follow-up training for Sister Sherksnas! I love going to trainings. Although I know that I am here to minister and not be ministered unto, I really do enjoy getting to hear the powerful motivation, instruction, and testimony given by President Patterson and the assistants, oh and of course Sister Patterson :) I felt that I need to focus more on planning sufficiently to make stuff happen! We plan every day and we do a pretty good job, but there is a difference between good and great! This last weekly planning we took the advice of the assistants and made thorough plans every day to help people come to church. I hope next Sunday we get to see the fruits of our labours, but even if we don't right away, we keep having faith that exact obedience brings miracles! Faith does indeed precede the miracle!

We also got to meet with another one of our investigators with a baptismal date, Karie. She is a really sweet lady. She wants so baldy to change and we (us and Heavenly Father) are going to do all we can to make sure that she can! We have already set goals and made plans with her to help her quit smoking, and set a goal to meet with her at least twice a week to give her strength and continue to help her learn and progress. I really do love her a lot. I love all my investigators in a way I never thought I would. It is truly a humbling experience to get to see their potential through God's eyes.

We also have been meeting with Gabriel almost every day! He has made a pretty fantastic transformation from when we first met with him. He is working so hard to humble himself and put off the natural man. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments, and I know God is too. He accepts God's will without question, just seeking to follow him. I can't wait to see what he does in his lifetime.

God is so good! I can testify that he is preparing people in every country, in every mission, in every area, on every street in the world. God is working with them in their time. He knows exactly who will receive the Gospel and when they will receive it and who will bring it to them. It's up to us to find out how we plan into that and to ACT!

Gabriel's sister is a member, her name is Maria, and she made us the most delicious taquitos! I have never had homemade taquitos, they were soooo good!!! Maria also showed us a really awesome video, a broadcast from an Area Seventy called Christ's Church Blueprint or something??* It was suuuuuper good. I think the guys name was Tad Callister or something? Anyway, try and look it up, it’s the bomb.

On Friday we also felt impressed to go to a specific area where we proselyte and visit some potentials and do some street contacting. As we were doing this we found a young man named Thomas! It was such a blessing to be able to receive revelation from the Lord and to find someone who was being prepared by him. We met with him the day after with Brother Fitzpatrick, a member of our Bishopric, and we discussed the purpose of life! He ended up being 27 so we passed him off to the YSA elders (sadface). I am just so grateful for the plan our Heavenly Father has given us so that we can return to be with Him again! This time on earth is the time for us to prepare to meet God! (no pressure)

So all week long we had been visiting people and texting them reminders about Church, we even saw a bunch of them Saturday night and they all said they would come and we were so excited, and then Sunday came and...nothing. We even called some of them in the morning to wake them up and remind them and still no one came. I was pretty disappointed and I sat in Sacrament meeting thinking, what more could I have done? As Bishop Ravsten bore his testimony of how "faith precedes the miracle" I received my answer. It's not about what more I needed to do (in this particular circumstance). It was about what God could do. I needed to have Faith in His power and His ability. After all we can do, people still get to choose, even though that's super frustrating sometimes!

Sunday evening we had a stake missionary fireside and it was so amazing! The spirit was so strong and we did have an investigator, Karie, come to that! Our zone even sang a song at the end, and it wasn't too shabby if I do say so myself! All in all a great week :)

Love you dearly,

Sister Holt

*Link to Elder Tad R. Callister's talk, What is the Blueprint of Christ's Church?
What is the Blueprint of Christ's Church?

Let's see, we've got a picture of a lizard,a dude getting arrested and this sketch hotel we were teaching someone at... the moon :) the sunset :) oh and also it got to 35 degrees this week!  So that was sweet!