Week #15: My companion can talk to gators..‏

What the Monday?! Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. Time on the mission is bizarre! But that's okay, because...
Valerie is getting baptized! We. Are. THRILLED. In a couple weeks she will take the first step into her eternal journey, and my heart has never been happier! She is so ready, and her testimony is one that rings true in my heart time and time again. We are so blessed that we get to work with her!
We also got two new gators this week, James and Sandra, and they are super awesome! Little tender mercies and miracles from the Lord are the greatest.

It was definitely a ssllooowwww week, but still a good one. :)
We had interviews with President this last week, and sheesh. He is one inspired man! I just love him with all my heart! President Smith and Sister Smith are AMAZING! It was such a great meeting!
We got to do some service at a member's house which was SO nice. For some reason, service is close to impossible to find here. We got to help paint there house, so it was good :)

I also came to the realization that if I change the gear on my bike and raise my seat, life get's a lot easier. Don't worry. It's only taken me 21 years to figure that one out.

BREAKING NEWS. WE HAVE GATORS LIVING IN THE POND BEHIND OUR HOUSE. And it's hilarious! We haven't seen them yet... I know, I know. BUT we can sure as heck hear them! As soon as they get dark, they get croakin away. It was pretty intense the other night. The first night we heard them, we may or may not have spent a good 45 minutes searching, watching, calling, and singing to them to get them to be visible.. They don't respond to primary songs.. But Sister Rohwer decided to try making a gator noise, and IT TALKED BACK! They went back and forth, and back and forth, and I was about ready to die! haha It was hilarious. We are going to feed it some raw chicken this week... I may or may not be emailing next week with one less limb.. But every living creatures gotta hear about the gospel! ;) We have a good time.

I absolutely ADORE Sister Rohwer. She is the biggest sweetheart ever, and one of my greatest friends! I'm so so grateful I've been able to serve with her!

Oh, and yes. My scriptures have fallen apart. The new scriptures are bound real bad. I'm not the only one that it's happened to, and super glue doesn't do the trick! But we'll just say that I've used them so much they are just fallin apart. ;) Because I have...
That's about all for today, but thank you to all who have sent me birthday things so far! I just get so overwhelmed with all the love! so THANK YOU! Ya'll are the greatest!

Love peace and chicken grease,
Sister Holmes :)

Week #14: I Shook The Hand of an APOSTLE.‏

The MTC girls together again (L-R; Sister Holmes, Sister Brown, Sister Beal, Sister Christiansen)
The Plain City Crew (L-R; Elder Parkinson, Sister Holmes, Elder Bradford)
Well hello there! WHAT A WEEK! We had the absolutely incredible opportunity to have a mission conference with Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve! President and Sister Smith were able to make it work so that the ENTIRE mission could meet together for this. Such a huge deal! We had the opportunity to meet Elder Anderson and shake his hand. Whoa. Let me tell ya. The spirit when he walked into the room sky rocketed. Instant tears on my end. Then when I got to meet him, I just wanted to hug him so bad! He truly is a man called of God. What an awesome experience! We got to sing our mission song to him (which holy emotions all over again because there were 200+ missionaries singing it for an apostle!) and then we got to hear from President and Sister Smith, then Elder Anderson and his adorable wife. Also, Mark Goldsteen (springsteen? crap. I forgot his name already) anyway, an AMAZING pianist played all the prelude, hymns and mission song for us! SO. COOL.
A fellow class of 2012 Silverwolf, Elder Smith
It was fun to have the whole mission together! I got to see all my MTC family and catch up with them, then I also saw Elder Bradford and Elder Parkinson(?) (crap.. I've already forgotten his name too!)  We of course had to take a Plain City picture. So crazy. haha I also ran into Elder Smith (Collin Smith) who I graduated with! What the! It was so fun. I especially loved seeing my girls!
So to make this even better, Elder Anderson came to the Panama City Stake and did a devotional. So I got to hear from him and be in his presence TWICE! He's amazing and I learned SO much. I was on a spiritual high for ddaayyss.
We had two investigators come to church, so that was ssaawweeet! We are still working with Valerie, and hoping to set a baptism date with her tomorrow! Peter is doing so well! He definitely feels the adversary working on him, but we have faith that things will work out! He is from Egypt, so Sister Rohwer and I surprised him with an Arabic Book of Mormon. He LOVED it!!! He was so so grateful. So that was a cool experience!
It was quite the week! I may or may not have had some mini meltdowns, BUT my sweet Savior pulled me through every time.
Just like I knew He would. :)
I'll leave you with one thing that really stood out to me as I listened to Elder Anderson. "Lift your face, and lift your faith."  Always look up to the Savior for comfort, for guidance, for happy times and bad times. Lift your faith and rise up to the
potential you are divinely destined with!

I love you all, and I feel your prayers every minute of the day. Thank you for ALL the support!!!
LOVE: Sister Holmes :)

Nobody's home... Was told an investigator lived here. Good new is no one lives here.
Frozen Yogurt for dinner!
Amazing friends and companions. An instant connection.


Alexa & Sister Rohwer (Logan, UT) during Christmas day Skype
WHOA! Has this week been amazing or WHAT! Sister Rohwer and I are being SO BLESSED right

now. We've just been dying at how quickly the work has boomed this last week. My heart has never been so happy!
We got 3 new gators this week! Can you believe that?! THREE CHILDREN OF GOD READY FOR THE GOSPEL! And not only that, but we have 3 others that are pretty amazing potentials that we think with become investigators, and one little 7 year old girl we are working with for baptism! The Lord answers prayers, that's for sure! So all together we have 5 investigators! *insert the victorious butt scootch dance, screaming, and jumping up and down with all the excitement of the universe.*

Now here is a story all about how the work got flipped turned upside down. I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, I'll tell you all about how the work is hastening out here... I'm so clever.. ;)
So I hate to admit it, but my faith had been lacking a little. We had seen little to no progress on the people we were teaching, we were having a difficult time finding new people to teach, and our plans kept cancelling left and right. As one of the most frustrating days was coming to an end, Sister Rohwer and I decided to pull into a parking lot and say a prayer. We sat there for a minute and decided to go to a gas station to get a drink. (I may have told this story last week... so if I did, ssoorrryy. you get to hear it again. but stay tuned. There's more information!) There was one person in there. And he was the worker. His name is Peter and we shared the gospel with him! He was SO interested. So fast forward a few days, and we were able to take him on a Church Tour, and teach him about the Restoration. We gave him a Book of Mormon, and the spirit was extremely strong! He asks the most incredible questions and has such a strong desire to know which church to join. He is our age, and is from Egypt (the gospel will be shared with all nations!) and is such an amazing person. He is always telling us how good he feels when we teach him and how much he looks forward to our next lesson.
Then, Sister Rohwer and I went on exchanges. Our Sister Training Leaders are Sister Peterson (aka Sister Pete) from Utah, and Sister Palmer from Arizona. And WE LOVE THEM. They are the two funniest human beings on the planet. Sister Pete and I were able to talk to a bunch of people on the streets as we rode our bike in tundra weather, and even ran out of Book of Mormons to pass out! The spirit was so strong in each OYM we did (OYM = Open Your Mouth) and we had so much success. So much that we have a family we are going to begin teaching, and another man who has been looking for this gospel. Holy Miracles!
Not only those, but we had THREE investigators come to church yesterday! That is HUGE! One of them being a lady we met saturday while riding our bikes.
As I was riding my bike, I was praying so hard to Heavenly Father. I told him that I knew he would place those children who are prepared to receive the gospel in our paths. I knew he would guide us to where we needed to be, and that I knew he had a plan for our day. I asked to have my eyes spiritually opened, that I would be able to be aware of all those who surrounded us. So, silly me took the wrong turn on my bike. We laughed and just went with it, and that's where we met Cindy. I yelled hello to her as she was unlocking her front door. She looked at me, and started walking toward me. I turned my bike around and rode back to her to hear her say to me, "I know you. How do I know you?! Are you from around here? Have you worked in an office building here locally? I have seen you before. I know you!" I was like wwhhaatt.. So i went with it. She brought up the gospel, was asking questions, and asked if we had any literature for her to read. So, of course I whip out my handy dandy Book of Mormon and she was so beyond excited! I invited her to church for the next day, and gave her the card with the church address, time, and our number. We set an appointment to meet with her on Tuesday.
Now, while this was happening, another man came up to Sister Rohwer and started asking her questions! We ended up sharing the gospel with two completely different people, and gave both of them a Book of Mormon having two completely separate conversations, AT THE SAME TIME. What the WHAT!
Now, it's Sunday. We were ecstatic to have two of our gators at Sacrament Meeting. We went to Sunday School, and randomly got summoned out of class. Lo and Behold, Cindy had WALKED about an hour to church because she didn't have a car and she wanted to come see what it was like. SHE WALKED. My heart about leaped out of my body! She stayed for Sunday School and Relief Society, we ended up having a lesson at her house a few hours later, have another appointment set up with her for tomorrow, and she wants to come to scripture study on wednsday, and church again on sunday! we have found her rides, and she is so just crazy awesome!
THE WORK TRULY IS HASTENING! My faith has been increased ten fold, and I thank Heavenly Father every day, and all throughout the day for blessing Sister Rohwer and I with these opportunities, and trusting us enough to let us help these children of His!
Sister Rohwer and I couldn't be happier, and we have seen the miracles and blessings that come from prayer and companionship unity.
SO! This week, I want to invite YOU. I want to invite you to pray for a missionary opportunity. They surround you, and they are always available. Have the faith of Enos, and have the desire to bring one of Heavenly Father's children into the fold. Have a desire to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel, through Faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I know with every ounce of my soul, that you will be blessed with such an amazing opportunity to share the gospel.
I am SO grateful to be a missionary! And to not only wear a badge on my chest, but a badge on my heart. This church is true!
Sister Holmes :)

Week #12: Here's To a NEW YEAR!‏

Hello people of 2015! Holy weird! I hope everyone brought in the new year with some fun! I sure did... if you consider bringing in the new year at 10:30 pm! ;) Oh the missionary life. Gotta love it! Oh, and I guess it's a southern tradition to eat greens and peas for good luck on new years day. Collard greens = THE WORST THING OF MY LIFE. Did I gag? The worst I've ever gagged before! Did I throw up just a little bit? You better believe it. haha SO. BAD. But, I swallowed, and got my good luck for the year!

This week has been one full of hard, exhausting, frustrating work. But also one of tender mercies and blessings. Sister Rohwer and I have been working hard to get to know the area and contact ALL of our potential investigator / former investigator list. It's quite the task, let me tell ya. We haven't had much success, but we've been able to update the lists, and we're still trying. We did however gain a new investigator! WHOO! Her name is Shannon, and she was a referral from a returning member! She has seen the difference and blessings that the gospel has brought to Muriah's (the returning member) life. She wants to go to church, and she is super awesome. We are so excited to work with her! We also found a potential that we are hoping works out! After a long, long, long, long what felt like unsuccessful day, we decided to run into a gas station to see if we could talk to someone there. There was absolutely no one. As we turned around, the cashier began talking to us and asking us questions. He thought we sold insurance. haha So we grabbed two drinks, went and bought them, and come to find out, he just moved here! His name is Peter, and he is probably in his 20's. We told him that we are missionaries, and he seemed super interested. He wanted to come to church on Sunday, so we gave him the address and our number in case he got lost. Unfortunately, the weather prevented him from coming (talk about waking up to a hurricane yesterday!) so we were super bummed. BUT! We have a church tour with him this week, so we are so so excited! Valerie still is planning on getting baptized, but her date has been pushed back just a little. We are working real hard to help her get there, and we know she will. She is so amazing, and such a beautiful daughter of Heavenly Father!

I've had the worst luck this week. haha my scriptures have flown off my bike handle, I've fallen off my bike, I've had dog poop flipped up on me from my bike tires, I've tripped on my bike, I dropped my jacket on the street and had to bike back to get it, I've made about a million and a half u-turns because I'm not smart enough to follow the gps we have and I hit my funny bone so hard that I have a bruise! haha Sister Rohwer has been cracking up (so have I) at how much these dumb things happen to me. haha Welcome to my life I guess! It's been fun, and my cheeks have hurt so bad from laughing.

Well, I love you all. The mission life is the best life, and I am so grateful for the letters and love and support I have received out here! I couldn't be more blessed.

As you begin this new year, make a goal that will spiritually help you progress and grow! Stretch yourselves to higher ground, continue to reach that potential that Heavenly Father has for you. Never give up, never back down. And know that no matter how steep the hill of turmoil and strife are, your Savior Jesus Christ is two steps ahead of you pulling you along. If you give it your all, he will carry you to the divine end of your journey.

Happy 2015! And 23 days til ma birthday! But whose counting ;)

Shishta Holmes :)