Wk #19: Witnessing a Testimony Grow

Four months has brought the highest highs and lowest lows, curve balls and home runs, weakness and strength, confidence and doubt. I've learned, and I've learned, and I've learned. I've been on my knees, I've cried. I've biked until I just don't think I can anymore. I've bandaged blisters, and have laughed until I've been sure I've gained a six pack. I've loved, and loved even more. But most importantly, I've seen.

I've seen relief in the eyes of the lost. I've seen hope in the hearts of the fallen. I've seen gratitude in the lives of the clean. I've seen desire in the soul of the growing. And I've seen harden hearts soften, testimonies grown, foundations built, and faith planted.

This week has brought experiences that will forever be dearly cherished in my heart. Experiences that have changed my life, and have changed the lives of others.

Archie. Archie has been talked to about the gospel for over ten years. His home teachers have worked with him, his sweet wife has been a faithful member and huge example and influence in his life, he's met with missionaries before, but never would accept the gospel. He always felt like he was being pushed, and he wanted it to be his decision. We received a miracle from our sweet Heavenly Father when we went over to introduce Archie to Sister Rohwer. Instantly, his countenance changed. We have now been able to meet with him multiple times, he's come to church the past three weeks, stayed for a pot luck, and has let his desire grow. Yesterday, Sister Rohwer and I went over for a lesson with them after church. We recapped the Restoration by watching the Restoration DVD with him. Not only was I able to witness Archie gain a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, but my testimony grew ten fold. As I sat on the floor, I watched Archie watch the movie. Tears filled my eyes as I saw his heart soften, as I saw him understand. I saw him feel the spirit, and my heart was so full. We had a very neat lesson with him. He is now working on keeping the Word of Wisdom, and will be baptized on March 14h! He told us yesterday, and told his home teacher yesterday at church, that he has been waiting for Sister Rohwer and I. We love him more than words could say, and have thanked our Heavenly Father every day for trusting US to help him.

I am SO grateful. So grateful for the miracles I've seen, and for the tender mercies that I've received. I'm grateful for the Atonement, for the beautiful strength and healing it brings me, and for the hope it brings to the people I am surrounded with. I'm grateful for my adorable companion. We've shed many tears together this week with full hearts and admiration for those we've been working with. I've really strived to apply Omni 1:26 into my missionary work, and be a consecrated servant of the Lord. I encourage you to do the same, and apply it to YOU!

Also, update on cute little Jazzanae! Her baptism has been moved to April, due to family complications. We are bummed about it, but she's still rockin the gospel!

I love being a missionary!
Sister Holmes
ps- I tried sushi for the first time this week. NEVER AGAIN. haha

Wk #18: Tender Mercies

Ya'll! It's been an awesome week!! Sister Rohwer and I have had so many amazing experiences that we have been so overwhelmed. The Lord has given us tender mercy after tender mercy, and we have been SO grateful for that!!

Valerie is doing AWESOME. She's sharing the gospel with two of her friends, and has been such an amazing missionary! Her testimony is so strong, and she constantly tells us how grateful she is for the gospel, then she gets teary eyed and says "Go out and find people like me. I want them to experience the things that I have. You are out here saving lives. Don't ever give up." We have had some extremely powerful experiences with her. WE ARE SO PROUD!

Our ADORABLE little investigator, Jazzanae is getting baptized on February 28th! She is a doll. I have never met a little girl with a testimony like hers. She's definitely got an extremely special purpose here on earth in the gospel. We had asked her how it made her feel to know that we can be with our families forever, and she responded "It makes me feel proud! I get to be with my beautiful sisters forever. And when I feel this way it just makes me want to hug everybody. I'm proud of my family, and my faith, and I love Jesus." Melted my heart! We are so so excited for her, and she is ecstatic about getting baptized!

We also got a new investigator this week, and he is quite the miracle. His sweet wife is a strong member in our ward, and the cutest little lady in the world. Archie LOVES to feed the missionaries, but has always been very bold about not wanting to talk about the gospel with us. (It's been this way for years, and his home teachers have been trying to work with him for as long as they've been here in Florida.. which is a where they grew up.. so a long time.) Well, Mr. Archie wanted to meet Sister Rohwer! So we set up a time to go over there, and both felt prompted to share a little gospel message with him. THE SPIRIT WAS SO STRONG. We ended up setting up another appointment, he came to church that sunday (which was H U G E), and at the next appointment.... drum roll please... we invited him to be baptized, and HE ACCEPTED!!!!!!! So yesterday (he was at church again!!) we asked him how he was feeling about being baptized, and he was so excited! We set a date for March 14th!! Keep him in your prayers! We have had the most powerful lessons with him that I've experienced my whole mission. He is ready for the gospel, and we are SO happy for him!!

We had a lesson with our new investigator, Roy. (The bible basher...) and we really focused it on the Book of Mormon. It was a little frustrating, but I was able to bear testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith as well as the Book of Mormon, and I was overwhelmed with the spirit. It really hit me. I am so lucky that I get to be out here, sharing what I KNOW is true. you can't deny something that someone knows, and I was able to truly testify with all my heart about the gospel. We have another appointment with him next week. :)

This week we also got to go to Tallahassee to get the lovely Black Boxes put into our cars! (If you don't know what those are... google them. haha they are a safety device for our cars that I'm still trying to get used to) but I'm now the designated driver, and the steward over the car, so that's fun. haha BUT, it was Zone Conference so we had an AWESOME meeting with a few of the zones in the mission! I learned SO much, and as always, the spirit was just so strong. President and Sister Smith have my heart. I'm so grateful to have them leading this mission! Sister Smith showed us this video during the conference, and it really touched me. We are all in battle with the adversary. We know we are going to win, but we have so much to do before we gain that win. http://floridatallahasseemissionexperience.blogspot.com/2015/02/training-video.html
 It was a fun little road trip, and definitely exactly what I needed. :)

Also, Sister Rohwer has converted me to coconut. Never been a fan until now! She got a cute package with coconut macaroon cookie mix in it from Kitchen Kneads and WHOA. I had to REALLY practice my self control. HEAVEN.
This week I have been so overwhelmed with the spirit, that sometimes I look at my badge and just feel so honored to wear my Savior's name on my chest, to represent Him, and to bring others to the fold! What an amazing opportunity.

Thanks for all the Valentine's Love over the weekend! I loved it all!!!
Have a blessed day!
Sister Holmes :)

Wk #17: A Weekend Full of Tender Mercies

WOW! What a weekend!! Sister Rohwer and I have been on a spiritual HIGH! :)
Saturday sweet Valerie got baptized! It was such an incredible baptism and the spirit was extremely strong. Everything went smoothly (except our water heater for the font.. poor girl. haha) and the cute program was so great. Valerie insisted on bearing her testimony at the end, and whoa. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. She definitely has a deep understanding and strong testimony of the gospel. She has come so far, and her life has truly been changed by the Atonement. What an incredible opportunity for her! I was so so happy. I have been so grateful that I've been able to get to know Valerie. She has the most tender heart, and I am SO beyond proud of her.
After the baptism, cute Sister Rohwer and I had a big heart to heart that led to tears of gratitude. You guys. She is SUCH a blessing to me. I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father let us be companions! She is my family out here, and I will forever be grateful for her.
We rode our bikes all day Saturday, and the weather was absolutely GORGEOUS. Perfect blue skies, warm sun, and a soft breeze. Man, February in Florida is nniicceee. We were able to talk to so many people about the gospel, and there were so many tender mercies from Heavenly Father. We were so overwhelmed.
Later that night we decided to try a new technique that another sister shared with us called "indoor finding". So we went through our area book and called all the numbers that were listed, even if they were from years and years ago. And guess what! More tender mercies! We were able to set up multiple appointments with people! Some who hadn't talked to missionaries ever before that had given their information in 2008!

We ended up having a lesson with one of them last night. We were so excited, and had one of the young women teaching with us! So we went into the lesson. And there it was. My first experience with a bible basher. Welcome to the South ya'll! It was... an interesting experience. He wants us to come back next week so that he can have his buddy (a Jehovah Witness) hear what we have to say. Yikes. haha

But church was amazing, and we had THREE of our investigators there! What a blessing! One of which was a new gator we got this week!

Sister Rohwer and I have also had some pretty awesome, fun moments. haha Saturday night, we got laughing so hard that I was crying because I was in so much pain! haha I thought my abs were going to tear! Oh the joys of a good hardy laugh. We had so many happy moments!
I LOVE THE GOSPEL. And I LOVE being a missionary. It is the greatest experience of my life. The happy moments, like Valerie's baptism, outweigh the bad every time. Sometimes missions are 98% difficult, exhausting, and overwhelming. But the 2% of joy makes it worth it beyond measure.
Thank you for all the love and support. I couldn't be out here without ya!
The happiest sister in the south,
Sister Holmes

Wk #16: 21 and some Callaway fun!

Well hheellloo!!

First of all... T H A N K  Y O U  for all the birthday cards, packages, and emails! I was completely overwhelmed with love and have to say I got a little spoiled out here! So thank you!!! I ended up having a wonderful birthday! Sweet Sister Rohwer made me my favorite brownie sheet cake for my birthday, which I of course ate for breakfast.. ;) we went out to lunch with Sister Jenson and Sister Campbell (the other two sisters in our area) at Applebee's for my birthday lunch, which I ended up being having a birthday solo performed for me. Sister Campbell decided to tell our waitress that it was my birthday, and all the sudden she starts singing a very intimate, eyes closed serious birthday solo, almost at a Josh Groban level. You could say I was QUITE embarrassed. haha But it made for a funny moment. We did some service at a member's home, which means I got to wear SWEATS! Booya! Then went to scripture study, where I was surprised with a four layer cake that one of our YSA's made me! They all sang to me too. It was such a great day, and it felt great spending it out here! :)
Some other big news... We got transfer calls last night.. and.. SISTER ROHWER AND I ARE STAYING TOGETHER HERE IN CALLAWAY!!! We. Are. THRILLED. I just love her!
Miss Valerie's baptism is all set for this coming Saturday, and wow. My heart is just SO full of so many happy emotions! She is the biggest sweetheart ever, and her testimony just radiates. I am so beyond proud of her! Both Sister Rohwer and I are so, so excited that we get to both be here for her baptism. WE'RE SOOOO EXCITED!
Church yesterday was amazing. Our testimony meeting had the sweetest spirit, and it was amazing to hear such strong witnesses of the truth share their feelings. What an amazing opportunity we have to bear our testimonies! Other than that, we had a pretty slow week. We had a lot of cancelled appointments and lots of failed plans, but we're still workin hard!

This week I wanna leave ya with a little message about Family History. It is such a HUGE focus here in this mission, and something we should put as a priority in our everyday lives. I want to challenge and commit ya'll to find 1 name... just one.. this week to take to the temple! Remember your kindred dead. Read D&C 128:15,18-19, then pray for the spirit of Elijah as you search through your family tree. I promise you, that as you sincerely search for those ancestors, you will feel the spirit, and you will find those who are prepared to receive the gospel. You will find those who have been waiting for you, and specifically you, to do their work here on earth. What an amazing opportunity it is to live in a place that is completely surrounded by temples in every direction! Recognize that blessing, and recognize the opportunity and endless miracles that come from taking names to the temple. If you don't know how, or have never done it, ask someone. Go to familysearch.org and see your eternal family unfold :)

I love you all, and I am so grateful to be a missionary! What an amazing experience it is to help the lost sheep come back into the fold. Helping others feel the love that our Savior, Jesus Christ has for them. Seeing the Atonement work and change the lives of those around me. Everyday I am overwhelmed with an appreciation for my Savior. For the call that I accepted to help labor in the Lord's vineyard. My heart is just so happy, and it's so happy all the time. :)
Have such a wonderful week!
Peace and blessins.

Sister Holmes :)

Applebee's birthday lunch (Sister Campbell, Alexa's runnin' buddy, is on her way home!)

Partners in everything...