Week #11: Where has 2014 gone?!

I hope everyone had such a wonderful Christmas and that they bring in the new year with something fun! I can't believe it's almost 2015! What the heck! Time is just FLYIN'!
Christmas on a mission is definitely a different experience. I was able to truly feel the TRUE meaning of the holiday all day long. What an awesome opportunity to share the gospel message on the day we celebrate Christ's birth! I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be a missionary. We ate so much that day... luckily it was all good (normal) stuff! haha

Again, thank you thank you for all the Christmas cheer. I have the most wonderful support system in the world! I'm so lucky to have such amazing family and friends. So, THANKS! But, the best gift I received was SKYPE! That made my heart SO happy!!

The rest of the week was great! We set a BCD (Baptism Date) with one of our investigator's, Daphne! We are so so so excited! She is such an amazing person, and I just love her so much. The missionaries have been working with her for just under a year, and we are so proud of her! Her baptism is planned for the end of January. So keep her in your prayers as she prepares for this special day!
Sister Rohwer. You guys. I ADORE Sister Rohwer. She is the biggest sweetheart in the world. I've loved her since the first time I talked to her on the phone when we found out she was going to be transferred here! She is from Logan, Utah and is just such an incredible lady. We get along SO well, and have so much in common. I am so so excited for this transfer, and we have already hit the ground running and have so many awesome goals set. She is just so great.
We are working with Grandma Nash helping her get to the temple. She is doing so well, and has progressed so much! I love her with all my heart and soul. She adopts all the missionaries she works with, and she truly is my Callaway Grandma! We are praying that this new year brings her the blessings of the temple and that eternal happiness.
I am SO grateful to be a missionary! I have learned so much about myself and about the gospel. This is an experience that is so precious, and beautiful, and I have the privilege of being right in the middle of it! My heart is always full of so much happiness and love towards God's children.
I've been reading in 2 Nephi, and I have just gotten SO much out of it lately. (I LOVE THE SCRIPTURES) As I was reading in 2 Nephi 8 I came upon verse 3 and just loved it. Be Christlike, be obedient, live the gospel joyfully because one day the Lord will come, and he will comfort Zion and we will be filled with joy and gladness, thanksgiving and the voice of melody. Life is hard, but it IS worth it!
I love you all so much and appreciate all the prayers on my behalf. I can feel them helping me and bearing me up when things get difficult.
The Happiest Missionary in the South,
Sister Holmes

ps- my white Christmas was on the beach... and that indeed is a jelly fish. Say what!

Week #10: A Christmas Surprise

Before I begin, here's another ginormous THANK YOU to all those who have sent me Christmas cards, letters, and packages! I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! It makes my heart so happy! I have the best family/friends around. Thank you!
So this week was good! We had a district activity on Tuesday and we played football! It was so much fun. Am I coordinated? No. Am I out of shape? Yes. But it was a good time! We did white elephant gifts and I ended up with a manicure set and a doo-rag. haha 
We had a lot of great lessons this week, and ended up getting a bunch of referrals, so we are super excited about that! We're making progress on some of the people we are working with
 and it's so great. The work is a little slow, but it's picking up.

Our house right now is full of yummy Christmas treats... and my self control is zero... but who cares! it's the holidays, right?! 
We went caroling last night with some ward members and it was a ton of fun, we visited a lot of the people we are working with and went back to the church for hot chocolate and cookies. It was rainy rainy, but lots of fun! 
Now for the Christmas surprise.... Friday night we get a call from President Smith. (insert heart drop.) The first thing he says is "How are you and Sister Charles getting along?" What the! So we said good... THEN! He begins to tell us that there are two super awesome sisters that need some help, and asked me how I would feel about being transferred and TRAINING one of them! I about DIED! I'm not even finished with my training yet! So he said he would get back to us Saturday with the final decision, he just wanted to give us a heads up. So we exchanged Christmas gifts Friday night, not knowing what was going to happen. Saturday rolls around and I am dyin all morning. We finally talked to President and he told us that Sister Charles will be the one to transfer and train, and I'll stay here in Callaway and work with the other sister! PHEW! haha So I'll finish my 12 week training here, but train the new sister around the area. So it should be interesting! Sister Charles heads out to Pensacola tomorrow, and Sister Rohwer is coming back with me! She's from Logan, Utah! So that's awesome. I have talked to her on the phone a few times and she sounds like such a sweet heart. It's so crazy that it's all happening the day before Christmas Eve, but I'm so excited and it'll be a good change!
Not much else to report on this week, but I want to leave you with one of my absolute favorite scriptures! It's 3 Nephi 13:21. GO FIND YOUR TREASURE!! :)
I hope you all have the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER! I can't believe it's already here! I love you all and pray for you all everyday!

Sister Holmes

Week #9: Callaway Round 2

I'm here in Callaway for another transfer with Sister Charles! We are ready to hit the ground runnin this transfer, and are so excited to be able to continue working with our families out here.

First of all... T H A N K  Y O U,  T H A N K  Y O U,  T H A N K  Y O U   for all the Christmas packages and cards! I am completely overwhelmed by them all! My district keeps teasin me that it's a "greeny Christmas", but I love it! I wish I could hug every single one of you! THANK YOU!

This week was so great! On Monday Sister Charles and I got to go to Mexico Beach with a cute member and her son, and it was GORGEOUS. I didn't want to leave. We had the greatest time, and there was no one there. (We were on the Tyndall Air Force Base beach) so it was awesome. Then, that night we met up with 8 other sisters and headed out to Tallahassee to spend the night in a trailer in a near by town. 8 sisters in one tiny trailer and 1 working bathroom? yep. haha definitely some memories made there! 
Tuesday morning, we drove to Tally for our half mission conference where over 100 of us missionaries came together! It was SO MUCH FUN! I was able to see all but 2 of my MTC family! It was so great to catch up with everyone and hear their stories of the work. President and Sister Smith spent so much time putting the conference together, and it turned out amazing. We had a little program, Sister Smith narrated, and a ton of missionaries did a bunch of musical numbers. Then we had lunch from Sonny's BBQ and then sat in a GIANT circle to introduce districts and zones and do a stocking exchange! It was so much fun. 
 Sister Crandall (her and her husband are the senior couple in our zone) had me, and she stuffed my stocking full! She is such a sweet lady. Then... WE GOT TO WATCH MEET THE MORMONS! It's about time! Did I cry my eyes out the entire time? You betcha! But man! It was so so good. We drove home that night and got stuck in traffic big time. We were at a stand still for 45 minutes, but some of the sisters in my car went and talked to a bunch of cars and did some He is the Gift messages. It was awesome.
Wednesday we had lunch with our Potential, Joe. You guys. I LOVE HIM. He is THE sweetest man ever. Ready for what we ate?..... SHRIMP BOIL. Ahhh! It was better than I thought, but yeesh. This seafood is going to be a struggle for me! But he also made a homemade blueberry cheesecake and sweet potato pie. Holy delicious! We had a great time with him. He's not interested in lessons, but we are just trying to befriend him and casually bring up gospel topics to help plant that seed. He wants us to come back for Christmas, so we're going to try to stop by. He's just so sweet.
We were able to work with our focus families again, and man. It has been an emotional roller coaster! There is a BIG drug problem down here, and it breaks my heart for the little kids that can't escape it in there homes. We've been working extremely intently with the Bishop with multiple families, and I just want to hug those kids so tight. Oh, the struggle! But, the work goes on, and the Atonement is ALWAYS available. Pray for these families...

On the bright side, our Returning Member, Sarah, is doing SO GOOD! My heart is so happy! She is progressing like crazy! So is Grandma Nash, and a few others.
We have biked SO MUCH this past week, and I LOVE IT! Biking in a skirt is... fun... but I seriously love biking out here. If you ask me again in February, then again in the dead of Summer, I may say something different, but right now? LOVE. We get to talk to so many amazing people, and the weather is perfect! A little chilly, but not too bad. My legs sure are feelin it! Ah, gotta love the burn!

Also, along with shrimp, I had homemade southern fried chicken (delish), butter cream cake (also delish), and SUGAR CANE (not delish)! The food down here! I'm tellin ya!
Since we are getting closer to Christmas, I want to share with you a little quote from Chieko Okazaki from the book Stars Were Gleaming by Greg Olsen (THANKS MOM!)
"The star in the heavens was not the only star or the most important star. The star within the heart of the wise men was the important star. After all, if the star was in the sky for all to see then hundreds of thousands of people would have seen it and thousands of people could have wondered at its meaning, and hundreds could have followed it...with hope and patience. Only [ the wise men ] kneeled before the young child, Jesus. They had a star within that enabled them to see the star without. They saw it with the eyes of faith, and it brought them to Jesus."

I love this so much. This week, and for the rest of this holiday season, find the star in your heart. Follow it's light. Find the Savior. Live the gospel. Be humble and obedient like the wisemen, and give him the gift of your heart this Christmas.

I love you all beyond what words can express. Thank you for your continued love and support! It means more than I could ever say.
Have a super awesome week!
So Much Love,

A happy, smiling day in Callaway!
Uhhh.... A little stress relief, maybe???

Week 8: #ShareTheGift

HELLO! This week was a great week full of progress and growth! Sister Charles and I set a goal to work on asking for referrals talking to everyone (for some reason we have been having a hard time remembering to do that) and we got SO MANY! We are so excited to contact them all, and pray that they are ready to receive the gospel! 

We also have a few new potentials that we are excited about, but one in particular that I want to share with you is Joe. We were driving home from an appointment one night and I saw this house with what seemed like millions of Christmas lights. So naturally, I had to go past it to take a picture! This sweet man was out passing candy canes to all the cars and people who came by. We exchanged candy canes for a pass along card, and ended up getting out to talk to him. He and his wife have been doing the lights for 27 years, and his wife just died a few months ago. He cried talking about how much he misses her and how hard the holidays have been. Anyway, we offered to come help him pass out the candy canes the following night, and he appreciatively accepted. So the next night we went over, and it was so much fun. He plays the Elvis Christmas Album every night, and we got to know him so much more. He was asking us questions about missionary work, and he was definitely intrigued by why we do it. THEN he invited us over for lunch next week AND for Christmas dinner! We are so excited, and so is he. He's making us Shrimp Boil (please pray for me... haha) and homemade blueberry cheesecake. He is SUCH a sweetheart and I love him so much already. He has gained the nickname "Grizzwald" because his house is so full of lights. It made me laugh and think of Dad. We are praying that he accepts the lessons and gains a testimony of this gospel! 
Our less actives have been progressing so much and we have definitely seen a huge change in all our families! It's been awesome to watch people learn and grow. keep them all in your prayers!

We had the ward Christmas Party and that was super fun. We dressed up and the theme was Little Town of Bethlehem. It was SO CUTE and the Christmas spirit was so strong. Our ward is so great!

The days have flown by, and the weather has been nuts. I was sweating one day, freezing the next, sweating the next day, and it felt like a tundra the next. What the! But I can't complain, at least I'm not out in the snow! 
As I was reading the Conference talks from October, I was reading "The Reason for Our Hope" by President Boyd K. Packer. He states that "His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent... The true success of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be measured by spiritual strength of its individual members."

I loved that. He IS the mighty healer, for all trials, sicknesses, and ailments. We also need to strive to strengthen our faith through all situations. He is there. He is with us. He knows us, and he loves us. 
If you haven't heard, the church is doing a Christmas message called He is the Gift. (John 3:16) When you get a minute, go to christmas.mormon.org and watch it. Discover the Gift, Embrace the Gift.
I love you all SO much and truly am so grateful for all the love and support and prayers on my behalf! I definitely feel them. 

Have a WONDERFUL week!


Sister Holmes

ps- Boiled Peanuts? SO. BAD. Did I gag? Yup. Did I continue to gag? You better believe it! Oh, and Aligator?! SO GOOD! It really does taste like chicken! hahaha 

pss- We have a plethora of goats in our area. So we stopped to feed them one day. haha And no, the goat didn't turn into a prince... I did get sneezed on though! Did you know that goat snot is black? Yeah. How disgusting is that! ALL OVER MY ARM. haha Love ya'll!


Week #7: Hello December!

So to bring in the first of December... we went running this morning. WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME. haha Just kidding. But we did go running on a dirt road lined by forest on both sides, and it was actually really good!

This week... This week was really good! Thanksgiving was awesome. We spent it with the sweetest people! Sister B was BEYOND excited to feed us & had called us many times all month & then THREE times Thanksgiving morning! haha but she is a sweetheart & her excitement is the cutest ever. Her husband isn't a member, but he's not interested in learning. He loves having the missionaries over though, so maybe one day. :) We ate lots of yummy food (she cooked for an army & there families & there were only 4 of us eating!). She sent us home with lots of leftovers. After that, we biked to our bishop's house & had some more food! He had one of his son's & daughter in-law & their two kids over, and Ben, our YSA bff over too. So we ate with them & then played a game afterwards. It made me feel like I was at home. So it was awesome.
We had so much success with our less actives this week! We taught multiple lessons that we were able to feel the spirit so so strong, and we got ALL of them to come to church yesterday! You guys! That was HUGE! We are so excited, and we are praying that we will be able to help them progress. As for our investigators, not much to report. The work in that area is ssllooww.. But we have faith and trust in the Lord that we will find those who are prepared to receive the gospel, so I'm not too worried.
We had exchanges this week, so I was able to go with Sister Peterson to Lynn Haven! Holy difference from Callaway! Polar opposites. And I was able to see the ocean for the first time since being out here! It was only for a brief moment, but it was beautiful! Exchanges were so good though and I learned so much. I love Sister Peterson. She is awesome and I was so grateful!

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous the past couple days. It's finally decided to warm up a little during the days, and it's PERFECT! It's that weather that I describe as the last day of school when you know it's going to be the best summer ever and there's that perfect breeze and it's just the happiest weather that touches your soul.... SO GREAT! Biking has been awesome in it! 
Church yesterday was super amazing, and I want to share something from it with you. In Sunday School we were talking about tithing. We all know and have learned how important it is to pay a full tithe and to keep that commandment. But something that a member said really stuck out to me and has changed my perspective on it completely! He said "Tithing is one of the only things we can ALL be PERFECT at. Whether we are millionaires or live paycheck to paycheck or anything in between, we all have the opportunity to pay a full 10%, giving us the potential to be PERFECT tithe payers." So, my challenge for you is to strive to be perfect in your tithing. It may be hard, but it's meant to be a sacrifice. If you strive to live the law of tithing, you will be blessed immensely!

I love you all so much, and I'm eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary at this time in the world. The work truly is hastening, and the church is growing. As we are in the midst of the holiday season, strive to find opportunities to serve those around you, and build your relationship with your sweet, sweet Savior. He knows you, He loves you, and He is always with you.

Thanks for all the letters and love! Keep em comin! ;)

Until next time,

Sister Holmes
>> happy dance <<
pss- I may or may not have accidentally set the fire alarm off in our apartment the other day. I have learned my lesson to not play with matches and candles. haha
That is all.
Not very many trees change here... but this one was INCREDIBLE! So vibrant and had all the colors!